Energy Central Professional


Chile, a world laboratory for green hydrogen

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    Green hydrogen is undoubtedly the energy of the future. Therefore, we appreciate the decision of the government of President Gabriel Boric to create, through Corfo, a Committee for the Development of the Green Hydrogen Industry in Chile, which will be headed by the Ministry of Energy and whose main objective is to promote the domestic use of this fuel, as established in the National H2V Strategy, developed in 2020 from the document written by dozens of experts convened by Congreso Futuro.

    However, the climatic emergency that the planet is experiencing, together with the delicate international situation following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, requires the greatest possible boldness and decisive steps to turn Chile into the new Arabian Peninsula in terms of energy.

    The third report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2022) indicates that it will no longer be possible to avoid a global average temperature increase of 1.5 ºC and, in the event of reaching an increase of 2ºC, we would be approaching a point of no return, since such a situation threatens to thaw the polar ice caps, which would release more than a thousand gigatons of C02 from the permafrost.

    For its part, the International Energy Agency states that oil and gas consumption continues to increase and, with it, CO2 emissions. Moreover, China is building one coal-fired power plant per week because it has no other alternatives to sustain its economic growth. And this seemingly inexorable path to the precipice of mass extinction will be paved even further if Russia makes good on its threat to cut off gas to Europe and the Old World countries are forced to return to coal.

    Storing hydrogen with high efficiency and low cost is, so far, the bottleneck of this energy industry that can continue to move the world, but with zero emissions and without threatening life on the planet.

    For Chile, this serious situation can be a great opportunity. It is a worldwide consensus that our country, due to its geographical position and geopolitical situation, has a privileged territory to produce Green Hydrogen (H2V) -without CO2 emissions- thanks to its extraordinary solar irradiation in the north and the strong winds of the Patagonian south. Of course: taking precautions, as respected scientific voices in Magallanes warn of the negative environmental impact that wind turbines could have on the migratory routes of birds. Therefore, they propose the use of geolocators to identify critical areas and formulate monitoring and impact mitigation measures. All of these suggestions should be taken into account by any project, especially the larger ones.

    Recently, the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, visited the Cerro Dominador solar thermal project in the Antofagasta Region and declared that "the world needs new sources of energy and the development of green hydrogen in Chile is very attractive, also for European companies (...) The natural conditions and an attractive regulatory framework for foreign investment will boost this country as an exporter of clean energy in the region", he said.

    Perhaps it is time to call on the main international H2V research centers, especially European ones, to promote a global laboratory in Chile to develop viable and efficient storage technologies, such as solid hydrogen, which occupies a smaller volume and does not require special temperatures, is activated by light and is distributed in batteries.

    Storing hydrogen with high efficiency and low cost is, so far, the bottleneck of this energy industry that can continue moving the world, but with zero emissions and without threatening life on the planet. Even more so if we consider that the current energy footprint, 160 thousand calories per day, that each person consumes on the planet, will increase to one million calories in 2050 (there will be more than 10 billion inhabitants) because the digital era will need gigantic data centers and clouds to support the chassis of artificial intelligence and metaverses.

    It is important that the Corfo Committee promotes the domestic consumption of H2V -thus substituting firewood and decontaminating the cities of the south-; in public and mining transport, and in smelters so as not to export only concentrate. But, at the same time, it is essential to increase the capacity to generate projects that allow, by 2050, to generate 50 thousand gigawatts of photovoltaic and wind energy that can be stored efficiently, thanks to the technology developed by the H2V World Laboratory that Chile is called to convene.

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