In the early days of solar energy, China dominated the market. Now U.S. and European competitors are trying to stop the same thing from happening with hydrogen power.
- The new focus of clean energy development centers around a device called an electrolyzer. This device, powered by electricity, can harvest hydrogen from water—all without producing dangerous emissions.
- As companies worldwide begin production on this valuable device, Western developers are carefully watching China, which is already a major producer of electrolyzers.
- While electrolyzers made in the U.S. and Europe are more efficient than Chinese-made devices, China can offer them at significantly lower prices.
- The Inflation Reduction Act introduced last year featured incentives and additional funding for clean energy initiatives in the U.S.—hydrogen is no exception.
- Monetary support from government initiatives could give U.S. production the push needed to become a leader in hydrogen energy production.
Why it’s news
The war between Russia and Ukraine has highlighted the need for countries to be energy independent to protect national security. Governments are looking to accomplish this through clean energy initiatives like solar, wind, and nuclear.
As Europe looks to alternative energy methods to support its systems, it has increasingly looked to hydrogen. The European Union has announced plans to produce 10 million tons of green hydrogen per year by 2030 but has yet to lay out regulations for what qualifies as green, Bloomberg reports. Without these regulations, companies have difficulty committing to long-term hydrogen projects.
However, as more countries look to develop hydrogen resources, experts are concerned that China will out-manufacture Western countries—leaving countries in the U.S. and Europe dependent on a foreign source once again.
But the complexity and size of electrolyzers could alleviate some concerns about outside competition. Due to necessary on-site calibrations, it could be more beneficial for companies to have a local manufacturer than a less expensive foreign manufacturer, Bloomberg reports.
Even so, incentives in the U.S. could be valuable to bringing in new manufacturers. Denmark fuel company Topsoe is currently working on a 500-megawatt factory in Denmark. However, CEO Roeland Baan has said that the incentive system in the U.S. is more appealing than the one in Europe.
“We decided to put our plant in Denmark. For the second plant, we’ll have to see. It might definitely be in the US,” Baan says.