Arda Yakici is the MD at Nexus Energy Resources and has decades of experience in the energy industry. I sat down with him to get his thoughts on how tech innovations and green-clean hydrogen are shaping the future of energy.
How are you involved in the global transition to clean energy use?
I have been working in the natural resources industry for over 20 years as a professional specialised in finance, commerce, accounting, and auditing. During these years, I held roles with Deloitte and PwC in the UK. More recently, I started my own commercial consultancy business, Nexus Energy Resources, to support clients in the wider energy spectrum with their efforts to transition into green energy. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work with many different companies on projects across the globe.
Hydrogen energy is an excellent innovation and is considered as one of the key solutions to a green-clean energy future. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe; however, it is not found naturally on its own. One way to produce hydrogen is by using the electrolyser technology that separates the key elements of water (hydrogen and oxygen) by application of electricity. The resulting pure hydrogen offers a brilliant way of storing and transporting electricity in liquid or gaseous forms. Storing and transporting electricity in this form is especially needed where the electricity production takes place in highly remote locations to where it is required and where transmission is constrained due to lack of infrastructure or relatively higher costs of building such facilities. For example, a southern European country can store electricity in hydrogen and ship this overseas to a coast location in Africa to be consumed by a factory where there is no alternative electricity access.
In hydrogen production, owing to continuous technological innovation and R&D, the electrolyser technology has been improving since more than 200 years (electrolysis process was first discovered in 1800 by English scientists William Nicholson and Sir Anthony Carlisle) and now the technology is more cost effective and efficient opening the door for a wider industrial use. In combination with green electricity (ie electricity generation from renewable sources) green hydrogen is one of the key drivers in reducing the use of fossil fuels in the future energy mix globally, allowing renewable energy sources to earn a growing share, thus hopefully leading to a greener world.
In the face of growing environmental concerns, how important are innovations like carbon capture?
There has been a growing international consensus since the 1990s about the need for reducing the global carbon emissions produced by humans to avoid global warming above levels that can result in adverse impact on climate. These initiatives accelerated with the efforts of international organizations such as the United Nations and global gatherings such as the 2015 Paris Conference, which raised awareness at a global level about environmental and climate change issues, emphasizing the necessity of increasing the share of renewable energy sources and reducing the share of fossil fuels.
Innovation is playing a key role in this helping to reduce the carbon footprint of fossil fuels in our atmosphere in the form of new technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage (“CCUS”). The CCUS process involves capturing the carbon dioxide produced by power generation or industrial activity, such as steel or cement making; transporting it; and then storing it deep underground permanently. Economic viability is the main barrier to implementation of new technologies. Before they are used widespread, the cost of manufacturing and implementing such technologies are expensive, therefore it results in a low appetite from the industry to take such measures. Country specific and international environmental regulations, as well as growing public pressure can act as important tools in forcing companies to act greener. Tax incentives and R&D grants provided by governments are further encouraging companies to reduce their carbon footprint, accelerating the investment and implementation of technologies and supporting new R&D. Additionally, where carbon emission release is not preventable, in some cases industry chooses to offset the impact by alternative initiatives such as forestation schemes and supporting growth of various green initiatives. Where this is not possible for the company to implement directly, again as an alternative, many countries now operate carbon emission credit trading to allow carbon producers to purchase and trade carbon credits where the income is used by the sellers of the credit for green investments.
How do you envision the future of hydrogen energy in the context of the broader energy landscape?
Thanks to innovation led technological advancements, energy generation based on renewable sources such as wind and solar power has become more efficient and cost effective thus leading to wider use and gradual replacement of fossil fuels. And green-clean hydrogen energy (meaning hydrogen produced by using electricity generated only from renewable energy sources) has the potential to complement the energy generation from renewable sources, by acting as a long-term carrier and storage for electricity and where there are transportation infrastructure challenges.
Green-clean hydrogen energy has the potential to meet a significant portion, ranging from 12% to 14%, of the total global final energy consumption in the scenarios aiming for a temperature increase of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels by 2050. However, this potential can only be realized if there is significant acceleration in investments in electrolyzer and fuel cell technologies, and also infrastructure within this field, so significant further innovation and investment is needed.