Can Green Hydrogen Help Heavy Duty Industries Like Steel Decarbonise?

Updated on: 22/11/2022

There’s a lot of hype around hydrogen right now. Proponents argue it is the most abundant element in the universe and key to unlock all our future energy needs.

While critics claim that it is far from being a silver bullet and will only work in some areas, but not others. They also point to the various processes being developed to use hydrogen to create energy and question whether they can be scaled up to meet demand.

One of these processes is called green hydrogen, which is made by using electricity from renewable sources to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

Fredrik Mowill, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Oslo-based green hydrogen company Hystar said he believes the process of electrolysis utilizing electricity from renewable sources is the best way to produce emission-free hydrogen.

Mowill added he sees a “symbiotic relationship” between renewables and green hydrogen. “We need each other,” he told Forbes.

“For renewables to continue to grow, we will need an energy balancing service for the grid and storage system. I believe green hydrogen will be the main storage solution over the medium term.”

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But he added there are still challenges ahead with green hydrogen, particularly around making it more efficient and commercially viable.

Hystar has developed two electrolyser systems, which he said are targeted at the growing demand for hydrogen within industrial settings. Its Vega system has a 10% lower energy usage compared to other electrolysers on the market and is optimized for continuous energy sources. It can be offered as a containerized system starting at 1 MW or be utilized in modules to scale up to meet the customer’s need.

While the company’s Mira high-power electrolyser is designed to provide optimised performance for systems powered by intermittent energy sources, such as wind, solar (PV), or unregulated hydro. He said it is ideal for applications with a variable production rate, or where the demand for hydrogen is variable and can reduce capital investment costs compared to conventional PEM electrolysers.

“There’s already been a lot of focus on hydrogen-powered transportation,” said Mowill. “I believe there will be a market for that, but our main focus is large-scale industrial applications, like refineries and steel. We are talking to several companies in this field.” Decarbonizing the global steel industry alone will require 52 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2050 according to Wood Mackenzie.

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Mowill added that by switching to green hydrogen, steel and other industrial sectors could substantially reduce their carbon emissions, and improve their standing with investors, regulators and the public at large.

The company is also working on other applications for its green hydrogen technology.

In September, it announced that Yara Clean Ammonia would join its pilot project, HyPilot, to get first-hand experience with Hystar’s high-efficient electrolyser. Improved efficiency has a high impact on sectors such as green steel and ammonia, and Hystar foresees delivering many electrolyser systems to these sectors, says Mowill.

The project will use Hystar’s PEM electrolyser and Equinor will test the electrolyser for variable output conditions as seen in offshore wind profiles. The project, which will be commissioned in 2023 and run for 10,000 hours to validate performance under highly dynamic operating regimes, will be installed at the Kårstø Processing Plant in Norway.

“This is still a relatively young industry, but it’s growing very fast,” said Mowill. “Lots of projects are being developed. In a relatively short period of time, you will see the first 100 MW green hydrogen project being commissioned. We will make a significant contribution to that rollout, deploying at scale with 10% less energy consumption, compared to conventional electrolysers.”


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