The development of green hydrogen as a power source at scale here could attract significant overseas investment, lead to the creation of thousands of jobs and solidify the country’s status as a hub for renewable energy.
This is one of the findings of a report on the potential for hydrogen power from the representative body, Hydrogen Mobility Ireland, which forms the basis of a new White Paper on the development of the sector.
It follows the decision by the Government to open a public consultation on the development of a national strategy for green hydrogen.
The report concludes that hydrogen has the capacity to fully eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from heavy goods vehicles on our roads.
The deployment of the fuel across the wider transport network would in turn contribute to a reduction in our carbon emissions by 2.6% by 2030, it claims.
The report goes on to state that the production of green hydrogen would diversify the energy supply here, providing enhanced energy security.
Some European countries have already started to develop hydrogen as a power source with both France and Portugal allocating €7 billion to hydrogen production projects.
Germany has allocated €8 billion of funding as part of its own national hydrogen strategy.
In the UK, £30m has been deployed towards the manufacturing of 124 fuel cell buses in Birmingham, and an £11.2m government grant has been introduced to develop low-cost hydrogen fuel cell technology for buses.
“HMI contends that an investment proportional to Ireland’s size and commuter population, will allow for 6,000 hydrogen-fuelled vehicles on the road by 2030,” the report concludes.
“Given that Ireland will be legally mandated to advance a network of hydrogen refuelling stations along its major motorways as per forthcoming EU legislation, the time for action and implementation is now,” it concludes.
“HMI’s policy papers show that the production of green hydrogen at scale, will facilitate Ireland in reducing its carbon emissions across transport and other industries, while creating significant opportunities for regional employment and boosting the green economy,” Jonathan Hogan, Business Manager at Hydrogen Mobility Ireland said.
“The sooner that we implement a national hydrogen strategy, the sooner we will transition away from fossil fuels, towards a low carbon economy,” he added.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, Mr Hogan said the fuel had applications in other parts of the energy network as well as in transport.
“It could be used as a backup in the electricity grid in the future or as a heating source as well as in industry. And there’s the possibility it could be used in aviation,” he explained.
Hydrogen has come in for some criticism from detractors of its use as an energy source claiming its production uses vast amount of electricity and water, which could negate the benefits from a sustainability perspective.
Jonathan Hogan rejected those claims pointing out that the focus was on green hydrogen which is produced without fossil fuels.
“The EU is telling us that we’re going to have to build Hydrogen refueling stations and hydrogen is going to account for 5% of transport use by 2030,” he explained.
“We have to be pragmatic… It’s about diversity,” he added.