By Myrna M. Velasco
SINGAPORE – Multinational energy giant Royal Dutch Shell plc is stepping up on its offer of energy solutions – this time with hydrogen as a prospective commercially viable option for passenger vehicles as well as a storage system for electricity generation.
Hydrogen is in the core of alternatives in the “new energies” investment sphere of the Anglo-Dutch multinational energy firm – which in turn, is also one of the anchors of its newly unveiled “Sky Scenarios” – relating to the world’s energy pathway for the next 50 years in keeping with the emissions reduction goals of the Paris agreement.
In an interview, Shell Vice President for Global Business Environment Jeremy B. Bentham, who is also the head of Shell Scenarios, noted that with hydrogen, this is seen thriving in the immediate future as a mobility solution for passenger vehicles, including heavy duty transport; and at the same time, it will be underpinning industries’ need for storage, primarily in the electricity sector.
“We need this for storage, you have to electrolyze water and turn it into hydrogen – and you can turn that back into electricity to fuel cells. And you can put it in your car if you want; or burn it in your furnace if you want,” he said.
The battery storage is one necessity that is being pushed into the energy equation, especially with the “intermittency dilemmas” of solar and wind – and for technology innovators in the energy world, they are seeing hydrogen to be showing a lot of promise on that space.
In the car industry, Bentham noted that Shell and its consortium-partners in Europe are now accelerating the deployment of at least 400 hydrogen refueling stations, primarily in Germany.
Hydrogen electric vehicles presently flourish on their technology synergies with gas.
In time, the Shell executive noted that consumers – not just in Germany but all over the world, could have hydrogen vehicles “that are very attractive and also fast to be filled – and they would be affordable if they are mass-produced – the time will come when you get to mass production phase and that is now building up.”
Currently, fuel cell vehicles have been using hydrogen to power their electric motors – and if compared to the conventional electric vehicles, it was noted that hydrogen vehicles’ pace of refueling could go faster – and that duration could be likened to filling up traditional cars with gasoline or diesel.
The future landscape of the transport and power sectors had been strategically linked into the “Sky Scenarios” of Shell – which intends to bring it into a pathway where it will have net zero emissions by year 2070.
Aside from its pitch for hydrogen vehicles and storage, Shell has also been diversifying investments into the solar and wind development terrains.
And into its “net zero emissions” goal, the multinational firm noted that it will not only be taking care of its emissions as a global energy player but will similarly factor in immensely the emissions contribution of its customers.
“So we shouldn’t just be responsible for the emissions we make, but for the emissions that we have our fingerprints on, to bring that to half by 2050. I just really have a sense of how challenging that is – 80 percent of the emissions that we have our fingerprints on come from the other people using our products,” Bentham explained.