The future of green hydrogen: Argentina has the resources to position itself on a global scale but needs a lot of foreign investment to develop
The production of Green hydrogen in Argentina, announced on Monday by the government at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, is a step forward in an industry with enormous potential in the medium and long term, they said to TN two experts in the energy sector.
“This is a long-term project, it will take at least 7 or 8 years,” said the member of the board of directors of Conicet. Miguel Ange Laborde, professor emeritus at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and one of the foremost specialists in hydrogen technology in the country.
Alberto Fernández’s government announced investments of 8,400 million US dollars with Australian businessmen to produce green hydrogen at the Sierra Grande mine in the province of Río Negro. It is the largest iron mine in South America closed in 1992 under the government of Carlos Menem. The project plans to create 15,000 direct jobs.
In this way, it is planned to make Río Negro a world pole for the export of green hydrogen by 2030. The objective is to reach a production capacity of 2.2 million tonnes per year, which would cover an energy production equivalent to nearly 10% of the electricity consumed by Germany in just one year.
What Miguel Angel Laborde says about the future of renewable energies in Argentina
Laborde, former vice-president in charge of the Conicet presidency, said that “the powers that use coal to generate electricity and have to reduce carbon dioxide are trying to buy green hydrogen in peripheral countries like Argentina and bring it to their countries “.
“Hydrogen is obtained from water. The minerals have to be removed and with electrical energy the molecule is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen. Corn for this hydrogen to be green, it must be produced with renewable energies», He indicated.
And he continued, “In Patagonia there is a lot of wind power. Now we have to see how much green hydrogen production is needed and how many wind turbines we have to put into service and adapt the electricity grid ”. For Laborde, this industry “has great potential. Argentina is the Latin American country which uses the most hydrogen in the chemical industry ”, he underlined.
Miguel Angel Laborde, Conicet
Argentina is the Latin American country that uses the most hydrogen in the chemical industry
In this sense, he mentioned that it is used in refineries to produce resins based on methanol, steel and also urea for the field. “So there is experience in industry and science. There are people who have been working on this issue for a long time, notably at the Institute for Scientific and Technical Research for Defense (CITEFA) and at the National Atomic Energy Commission (CONEA), ”he said.
How much does it cost to produce green hydrogen
Laborde said that producing hydrogen today by electrolysis of water costs more than doing it from natural gas. “All over the world, industry that needs hydrogen to produce ammonia or urea uses natural gas as a raw material. This releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, ”he explained.
And to add: “Today, according to the International Energy Agency, according to the prices of natural gas, the cost of hydrogen from natural gas is between 0.5 and 1.7 dollars per kilo. . ” But if you use clean energy, the cost is between $ 3 and $ 8 per kilo. But it all depends on the region in which it occurs and the availability of prices.
What Luciano Caratori says about the development of green hydrogen production in Argentina
Luciano Caratori is a consultant and researcher specializing in energy and climate change issues at the Torcuato Di Tella Foundation. “It’s a difficult project because green hydrogen replaces fossil fuels. As it is a buzzword, it is presented as a panacea, something likeput hydrogen in everything´, but there are specific applications which are more competitive than others, ”said Caratori, former Under-Secretary for Energy Planning at the Ministry of Finance.
For the expert, “there are several factors that must be evaluated in order to analyze the project. First of all the resource, such as the quality of the winds, the capacity factor of the wind farm, the availability of water. But also the infrastructure to transport the product, store it or transform it into a different vector such as ammonia and possibly export it, ”he explained.
At this stage, he continued, “the cost of capital is very important and here we are complicated without foreign investment.” “So we are very good at resources, but to build a better infrastructure, it is necessary to access investments. And in addition, adequate regulation is necessary for this coherent development and this long-term vision, ”he said.
Caratori said that “demand is also essential” because “the resource is greater than the potential demand”. In this sense, he explained that there is on the one hand domestic demand to replace fossil fuels, and on the other hand export. “It seems that the potential export scale is larger than the domestic use scale. For domestic use, it is necessary to replace equipment that uses other types of fuels, ”he said.
And he concludes: “Patagonia’s potential is huge. It seems like something that will stand out in the medium to long term, but it is important to arrive early in this medium and long term. A lot of cards are being played today and it is very important to start moving in that direction and to have a country strategy aligned with that.. If we can develop the markets early, that sounds like good news that Argentina is one of the first to move in this direction ”.
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