Change is a constant, but the energy sector – from power to oil & gas – is experiencing upheaval that is proving existential for some and lucrative for others. Climate change, geopolitics, renewables, primary resource costs and other factors are reshaping the energy sector. Some of those same challenges affect the automotive industry, whose CEOs are often to be heard saying that sector faces more change in the coming ten years than the past 100. Whatever your view of recent behaviour by automakers, spare a thought for an industry that is facing fundamental change, not only in the propulsion that it applies, but also amongst the customers it serves.
E4tech Director David Hart opened launch events in Cape Town and Johannesburg on 8-9 February for South Africa’s forthcoming fuel cell component manufacturing capability. Isondo Precious Metals is setting up a manufacturing plant for membrane electrode assemblies, the ‘heart’ of PEM fuel cells. The South African government strongly supports the initiative due to the potential for fuel cells to create value for the country’s platinum resources and to help support its mining industry, which held its Indaba conference in Cape Town at the same time.
Hydrogen could bring significant benefits to the UK’s energy system: heating homes and businesses, powering vehicles, and balancing intermittent renewables. This new roadmap provides an overarching industrial strategy for hydrogen and fuel cells to play a greater role in the UK’s energy mix. The principal benefits outlined in the report are:
Environmental benefits – Adoption of hydrogen and fuel cells will improve air quality today, and following the actions described could reduce UK CO2 emissions by tens of millions of tonnes per year.
Converting the natural gas grid to hydrogen is an option for the long term decarbonisation of heating in homes, businesses and industry. This would require appliances, such as boilers, hobs, ovens and industrial burners that can use 100% hydrogen instead of natural gas. A new report by Kiwa Gastec and E4tech looks at the potential supply chain for these appliances. Published by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the study investigates technical challenges and costs associated with developing hydrogen appliances, and discusses how barriers might be overcome.
A major new study on the outlook for advanced liquid biofuels has been published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The Innovation Outlook:Advanced Liquid Biofuels provides a global technology outlook for advanced biofuels between 2015 and 2045, specifically liquid transport fuels for road, shipping and aviation use. Aimed at policy makers and investors, it discusses the commercial potential, including the technical and non-technical barriers to deployment, and the role of innovation in overcoming these barriers.