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Hydrogen 101

Renewable Hydrogen:
A Flexible Molecule

At NovoHydrogen we believe in a clean and decarbonized society. Let us show you how affordable hydrogen makes this possible.

The Basics of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is an element that occurs naturally on earth but is only found in a compound form with other elements that are either liquids, gases, or solids. Water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (H2O). When hydrogen combines with different carbon atoms, hydrocarbons are formed. Hydrocarbons are the building blocks of conventional mainstream fuels – natural gas, coal, petroleum.
Did you know?

The sun is essentially a giant
ball of hydrogen gas under-
going fusion into helium.

On Earth, Hydrogen is
found in greatest quantities
in water
Hydrogen is the lightest & the most abundant element found in the universe.

Hydrogen: An Effective Energy Carrier

Energy carriers are able to transport energy in a form that is usable. Like electricity, hydrogen is an energy carrier. Hydrogen is a highly effective fuel since it has a high energy content per unit of weight. Unlike fossil fuels, when hydrogen is burned, no carbon emissions are produced. However, there are nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions that need to be addressed.
Hydrogen has the highest energy content of any common fuel by weight (about three times more than gasoline) but also the lowest energy content by volume (about four times less than gasoline).
Liquid hydrogen is the fuel of choice for space exploration. In fact, a hydrogen fuel cell system was used to power the Apollo 11 mission – which successfully landed man on the moon.

Demand for Hydrogen

Global hydrogen demand in 2020 was roughly 100 million metric tons, and this is set to double by 2030. According to the International Energy Agency, the demand for hydrogen could reach 528 million metric tons globally by 2050.

Hydrogen Production


To use hydrogen, it must be separated from other substances, like water. There are multiple ways to separate hydrogen from other compounds, but electrolysis is rapidly becoming the preferred choice for large-scale industrial hydrogen production.

Electrolysis is the process of using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The reaction takes place in a machine called an electrolyzer. Electrolyzers can range from big to small, and can be suited to support small or large-scale hydrogen production. The electricity required for electrolysis can be tied directly to a non-renewable or renewable source of energy. 10 liters of deionized water is required to produce 1kg of H2 through the electrolysis process.

Hydrogen from Renewable Power
Renewable hydrogen, also known as green hydrogen, is generated when a renewable energy source like solar or wind is used to power the process of electrolysis. This avoids the burning or use of fossil fuels and prevents greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from polluting the atmosphere.

Currently, hydrogen is mostly produced from fossil fuels. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), hydrogen production from fossil fuels has resulted in close to 900 million metric tons (Mt) of CO2 emissions per year, which is about 2.9% of global CO2 emissions. Not only can renewable hydrogen decarbonize the 2.9% of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel hydrogen production, but also play a role in decarbonizing the broader industrial, transportation and power sectors – which combined contribute roughly 86% of global CO2 emissions.

On-site vs. Off-site Hydrogen Production
Given all the properties of hydrogen (lightweight, highly reactive), it needs special considerations to store and transport. Hydrogen’s characteristics make on-site production the best option. If on-site production is not an option, a dedicated pipeline is the most efficient means to safely transport the hydrogen gas.

Did you know…


Ammonia is an effective hydrogen carrier and can be used in fuel cells, turbines or engines. Renewable ammonia is produced by combining hydrogen from water with nitrogen from the air. Due to its high hydrogen content (17.65 wt%) and ability to be liquified at -33°C, ammonia is increasingly recognized as a clean fuel.

Fuel Cells

Fuel cells generate electricity through an electrochemical reaction. In a fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are combined to generate electricity, and the only byproducts are heat and water. The water can be used for other industrial operations or reused in the electrolysis process.

Fuel cells that use renewable hydrogen are 100% clean, meaning they produce zero carbon emissions. Fuel cells do not need to be recharged like batteries; as long as there is a constant source of fuel, they continue to
produce electricity.

Renewable Hydrogen - A Flexible Molecule

Renewable hydrogen is an important piece of the decarbonization puzzle for multiple sectors, for example, chemical industries, steel manufacturers, power sector, aviation, maritime, and road transport.

  • Hydrogen and derivative e-fuels like ammonia or methanol can be used as fuel for transportation.
  • Hydrogen is stored and used for stationary power, building heat, and industrial and manufacturing sectors.
  • Fuel cells can provide non-stop power for critical load functions, such as data centers, telecommunication towers, and emergency response systems.

This ladder, developed by Liebreich Associates, provides the current view on sectors where renewable H2 can prove to be a competitive, greener fuel, and sectors in which it is yet to penetrate or be competitive. It is important to note that most of the alternate technologies mentioned are also undergoing rapid disruptions and technological advancement. All these technologies will continue to co-exist and thrive in a decarbonized society. Multiple factors govern the pace of renewable H2 adoption across these sectors such as innovation, cost competitiveness, and policy. We expect the uncompetitive sectors’ ladder rungs to shrink with time as renewable H2 continues to reduce in cost through innovation and policy mechanisms.

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