DOE lining up hydrogen as ‘fuel of the future’ for PH

Published December 10, 2020, 1:56 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The Department of Energy (DOE) is stepping up on the conduct of a feasibility study that will line up hydrogen as “fuel of the future” for the Philippines.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi

“I have recently formed a team to study its potential for the local industry given that hydrogen is seen as the fuel of the future,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said.

Aside from hydrogen, the other foremost technology currently under study by the DOE to be added in the country’s energy mix is nuclear, including the prospects of repowering the idled 620-megawatt Bataan Nuclear power facility.

It was last year when the energy department started its pitch for hydrogen as added option for future energy resources that can be utilized in the Philippine energy sector.

Cusi noted then that the energy department had tapped a Japanese entity to study hydrogen as probable resource addition to comprise the country’s energy mix – whether for battery storage, alternative fuel for the transport sector or as tangible resource for power generation.

He qualified though that this is still a very preliminary target for the country, and prospective plunge into it shall be solidly backed by studies – in terms of resource potential as well as cost impact on consumers.

Based on initial assessments of the Paris-headquartered International Energy Agency (IEA), hydrogen could become “a critical part of a more sustainable and secure energy future,” especially when it reaches commercial-scale deployment in the energy sector.

The IEA noted that based on the “hydrogen study” of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan, it has been established that this technology option “is currently receiving strong support from governments and businesses around the world, with the number of policies and projects expanding rapidly.”

In the Philippines, in particular, it’s the Royal Dutch Shell group that had initially proposed the commercial deployment of hydrogen as a feasible resource to underpin the country’s future energy needs.

As noted by experts, hydrogen could help resolve various energy challenges – including the need to store variable output from renewables like solar photovoltaic (PV) as well as wind, so that even with intermittent generation, they could have stored capacity that can be dispatched as needed in a power grid.

Beyond the energy sector, this technology is also an excellent succor to the decarbonization efforts of many systems around the world – including those in long-haul transport systems, chemicals as well as the iron and steel industries.

“A wide variety of fuels are able to produce hydrogen, including renewables, nuclear, natural gas, coal and oil,” the IEA has emphasized.

It further noted that hydrogen can be transported by gas pipelines or in liquid form by ships – which is very much like the transport system being employed for liquefied natural gas.

Such resource can also be transformed into electricity and methane to power homes and feed key industries, such as fuels for cars, trucks, ships and planes.

IEA Executive Fatih Birol indicated that “hydrogen today is enjoying unprecedented momentum, driven by governments that both import and export energy, as well as the renewables industry, electricity and gas utilities, automakers, oil and gas companies, major technology firms and big cities.”

Hence, his prescription is for the world “not to miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future.”