Hydrogen as a potential green energy solution is increasingly finding its footprint across the world through various applications.
Consumers play a big role when it comes to the success of a technology. Of course, technology needs to be promising but if it is not communicated well with the users or consumers, its success is rather limited. A lot is being spoken on how hydrogen is the future, the ultimate saviour, zero-emission technology etc.
Governments throughout the world are releasing their own hydrogen strategies with plans on pushing the advancement in the technologies and making the technology commercial. There are promises of big subsidies and investments to enhance the research and implementation of the hydrogen infrastructure.
One angle, I believe, which is needed and lacking focus on is public perception and awareness. It is, in the end, the people who accelerate any change and the same goes for the change in the energy industry. For hydrogen to be implemented on a large scale in the short timeline as forecasted, it is very important that the common man is also educated and made aware of the technologies involving hydrogen. This not only makes people aware of what to expect, but it also enables them to have their own opinions. If people are convinced of technology, its implementation needs less additional push.
People who are involved in the energy sector definitely have heard all about hydrogen but others need to be made more aware. One of the ways this can be achieved is through the implementation of hydrogen demo projects that appeal to the mass.
Projects that provide people with a momentary experience. That sparks the intrigue in people to talk, research and know more. That showcase to people what is possible with hydrogen and what role it can play in their daily life. It was exciting to hear of Japan’s plans to showcase hydrogen technology in the Olympics 2020. It was a very ambitious plan but nevertheless exciting as it had the potential of giving the hydrogen experience to the participants, spectators as well as a fantastic exposure to everyone following the event.
The ‘Hydrogen Olympics’ was envisioned with the idea of building an Olympic village, home to the thousands of athletes, completely powered by hydrogen; the use of hydrogen buses for the transport of athletes and visitors; availability of hydrogen cars as a transport option and the most fascinating of all – lighting the Olympic torch using hydrogen fuel. What happened, in reality, was a very toned-down version however it was definitely a step forward. It provided an experience to the people part of the event as well as created some noise about hydrogen.
Another unusual project I came across is the use of hydrogen in an Italian pasta factory. SNAM, an operator of gas networks in Italy started in early 2020 along with Orogiallo, a pasta manufacturer, a trial project showing the role hydrogen can play in reducing the CO2 emissions in the manufacturing process. By blending volumes of hydrogen in the natural gas pipeline, the project showcases a small step towards reducing emissions without the need for a big investment in making changes.
Such projects should be implemented worldwide in all different applications to really showcase to the people what hydrogen can and cannot do, and how important it is today to take our impact on climate change seriously.
(Rashi Mor is a renewable energy enthusiast with experience in PEM fuel cells system designing and testing. She is a hydrogen system technical consultant working in the Netherlands.)
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