All European countries are advancing towards the abandonment of fossil fuels and trying to take advantage of their own resources to take a turn at the helm and leave them behind for good. One of these territories that has its sights set on sustainability is Scotland, which is already investigating how to obtain hydrogen, an energy source that, thanks to its orography and natural resources, the capital has at its fingertips on its way to the energy transition .
More than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are carbon dioxide (C02), according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), so hydrogen is seen as a substantial player in decarbonization by 2050.
“It is an energy vector, that is, it can store energy,” explains the researcher and professor of Chemical Engineering Raffaella Ocone to EFE, who experiments with its extraction of organic waste at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. With a great presence in nature, such as in water, her problem is “that it is oxidized,” Ocone points out, so “we have to extract it in its pure state.”
depending on the type of energy used to obtain it – of natural origin or it will be clean (green) or, on the contrary, it will generate gases (grey), which can be captured (blue). The Scottish Government opted for it in its gradual abandonment of fossil fuels, of importance in its economy, when generating .
The action plan estimates that “domestic oil and gas production will come to an end in twenty years” in the North Sea without any action, explained the Secretary of Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson, before the regional Parliament.
Scottish targets are to generate 5 gigawatts (GW) of renewable (green) or low-carbon (blue) hydrogen by 2030, and an ambitious 25 GW with over 300,000 jobs by 2045.
The orography makes Scotland unique for it. In addition, thanks also to wind and tidal energy, it would position itself as an exporter to Europe, according to government projections, being able to generate up to 25,000 million pounds (28,300 million euros per year) per year in 2045.
“I think we can meet the expectations of producing green and blue hydrogen on a large scale” Malaysia PETRONAS, to obtain it via biomass, an option barely developed.
Ocone’s laboratory uses “organic waste”, and through pyrolysis (the chemical decomposition of organic matter) they “burn with the absence of oxygen”, something that in Scotland could come “from the whiskey industry”, says the expert. In the process, “we continue to get some C02” that is “captured and stored, therefore not emitted into the atmosphere,” adds the Italian Princeton PhD scientist.
“There are biomasses that are better than others,” he adds. Therefore, the raw material is important; later, the hydrogen “comes with other gases”, which makes necessary techniques for its separation. Hydrogen brings intrinsic challenges: “It has very little energy,” Ocone explains, and for this reason “you have to store a large amount and put it under very high pressure and low temperatures,” which makes it difficult to store and transport.
“We also investigate how hydrogen behaves when stored under layers (such as salt caverns), as you have to “make sure it doesn’t leak anywhere.” Faced with the challenges that hydrogen poses, Professor Ocone points out the importance of investors, and is also convinced that “this is the path towards the energy transition” and recalls the need to “act quickly, the pace is very important for obtain first-rate hydrogen.”