Supporting the shift toward green hydrogen
"Moving from a linear economy with a traditional industrial manufacturing model (Take, Make, Use, Lose) to a circular economy model with little or no impact on Natural Capital will require a strong commitment from corporations. To do this, they need to mitigate their short-term environmental impact, while rethinking their business models to make them sustainable by design for the medium-term.
The process of becoming sustainable by design begins with using renewable energy. Industry players worldwide are investing in cleaner energy sources, with hydrogen among the front-runners. Actors throughout the hydrogen value chain, including producers, distributors and technology providers, are working to design, build and operate the technology, facilities and infrastructure that will make blue and green hydrogen successful energy sources.
Thanks to our worldwide network of experts and extensive knowledge of international and local regulations, BV is perfectly positioned to support actors across the growing green hydrogen value chain. These players can then effectively support companies’ strategies to reduce their impact on the environment and dependence on brown energies.
A carbon-free value chain for hydrogen generation, storage, distribution and use is key to developing a circular economy business model that will positively contribute to the growing challenge of climate change."
While hydrogen has been used for years for industrial purposes, its renewable iteration – known as green hydrogen – is experiencing a period of increased demand, driven by zero-carbon objectives. In Europe alone, investments in renewable hydrogen will reach €180-470 billion by 20501, accounting for 12-14% of the continent’s energy mix. Around the world, public funds and private investments are supporting the development of green hydrogen for new urban and industrial uses. Here is our overview of this rapidly growing market.
Every year, tens of millions of tons of hydrogen are produced worldwide for use in the petroleum, chemical and electronics industries. However, the two main processes used to produce hydrogen (steam reforming and charcoal gasification) use fossil fuels, and therefore emit greenhouse gases. To limit the impact of these processes, the industry must produce hydrogen energy that is green and sustainable from creation to use.
The challenges and potential of decarbonized hydrogen
"Nowadays, the trendy process is electrolysis, which consists of separating water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen in order to collect the hydrogen molecules" explains Clément Poutriquet, Hydrogen Business Development Manager at Bureau Veritas France. “By using low-carbon or decarbonized electricity produced from wind, solar or nuclear power, hydrogen producers can produce energy with little or no carbon impact."
Green hydrogen has many uses, including:
- Storing surplus electricity from renewable energies in the form of hydrogen
- Redistributing surplus electricity by injecting it into the natural gas network
- Producing decarbonized electricity via fuel cells for stationary applications (e.g. data centers, festivals)
- Providing energy storage for transportation units (e.g. trains, trucks)
However, electrolysis continues to be a more expensive process than using fossil fuels and the hydrogen they produce. "Hence the massive support from public and private investors for developing and scaling up this method, which is set to become one of the cornerstones of decarbonization," notes Nicolas Mey, Technical Director of the Oil & Gas Global Service Line at Bureau Veritas.
The European Commission estimates that, "decarbonized hydrogen could meet 24% of global energy demand by 20501." Developing green hydrogen would also generate hundreds of thousands of jobs internationally.
Managing safety for green hydrogen production and use and…
This fundamental shift raises the question of safety for new installations that will generate and deliver hydrogen. These installations are located as close as possible to points of use, especially in cities and areas of concentrated industrial production.
Hydrogen is an odorless, but highly volatile and extremely flammable gas. "Its characteristics and detection threshold are different from those commonly applied to other gases, such as town gas or LPG," says Nicolas Mey. "New regulations will need to emerge to cover these new uses of decarbonized hydrogen."
Hydrogen safety is not only linked to managing risks related to physical assets. It is also a question of taking into account the risks surrounding digital security challenges, as all systems, sensors and networks have to be assessed and protected from cyber attacks.
…developing a structured, standardized framework for hydrogen
The growth of the hydrogen sector requires trust, not only among the general public and political and economic decision makers, but also those working directly with hydrogen.
Bureau Veritas has anticipated this challenge, developing a voluntary certification scheme based on our decades of experience in industrial hydrogen risk assessment. "This scheme is based on our expertise in international standards and knowledge of industrial processes, equipment and risk management," explains Clément Poutriquet. "It integrates with and adapts to regulations that are specific to each country. Our goal is to help project leaders shape trust with authorities, financiers and local residents."
Thanks to this framework, risks are considered from the design stage, and recommendations can be shared with all stakeholders. These include local councils, public authorities, financiers, hydrogen producers, design and engineering firms, installation and maintenance service providers, transport and energy operators, manufacturers, etc. "It is essential that all those involved with these sites are systematically made aware of the risks of working with hydrogen and trained in risk management," insists Nicolas Mey.
How Bureau Veritas supports the hydrogen value chain
Bureau Veritas is using its expertise to contribute to securing the entire hydrogen value chain as it is structured and integrated into the industrial production process. BV provides valuable expertise at all stages of project development and production:
- Pre-project: regulatory compliance, risk assessment, opportunity analysis
- Design: technical controls, supplier audits, assistance for design offices and installers
- Construction: safety and security, risk prevention, participant training
- Operation: maintaining in operational condition (MOC), energy performance optimization, certification of carbon-free hydrogen quality or origins, secure transmission by gas pipelines, electrical networks and vehicles
These services are part of the BV Green Line, a complete portfolio of services and solutions dedicated to sustainability. By developing comprehensive expertise across the hydrogen value chain, Bureau Veritas is ready to support the decarbonization of all sectors of the economy for the benefit of people and the planet.
A partner of choice in the hydrogen industry
With a clear vision of how hydrogen can help foster the clean energy transition, and 20 years of expertise in the sector, Bureau Veritas is a partner of choice for supporting the growth of the hydrogen industry.
Throughout the value chain, our experts are key contributors to the discussions and actions of international bodies such as the Hydrogen Council, whose objective is to lay the foundations for hydrogen to foster the clean energy transition for a better, more resilient future.
“Bureau Veritas is currently the only Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) company that is a member of the Hydrogen Council. To move forward with public trust, the decarbonized hydrogen market must leverage both extant projects and future technological and regulatory developments" concludes Nicolas Mey.