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This Hydrogen Power Plant Can Turn Trash Into Clean Energy

This Hydrogen  Power Plant Can Turn Trash Into Clean Energy

The year 2020 is likely to go down in history as a dark period for people all around the world, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic that has got the better of us for more than half of this year! It is clear that the coronavirus pandemic will overshadow, if not eclipse, other catastrophic events we are living through. While we, the people focus on this aspect, the planet has other pressing concerns. Years of over indulgent behavior on our part has altered the face of the planet beyond recognition. Increased levels of pollution, overuse of fossil fuels, natural calamities, climate change are all evils of our making that are now seeking retribution at the most inopportune time at the moment.

Thankfully, the reality of climate change has become apparent to most over the last decade. People around the world are advocating for cleaner energy, reduction in pollution levels, and use of fossil fuels. This demand has consecutively led to a number of organizations competing  to address the problem and facilitate the shift to cleaner energy.

A global energy company, SGH2 aims to provide cleaner energy to the masses and simultaneously tackle two of the biggest challenges the planet faces i.e. climate change caused by greenhouse gases and plastic pollution. The company has teamed up with Lancaster, a city located north of Los Angeles to set up the biggest Green Hydrogen plant in the world. “Our process extracts all carbon from the waste … removes all particulates and acid gases, and produces no toxins or pollution. The end result is high purity hydrogen and a small amount of biogenic carbon dioxide, which is not additive to greenhouse gas emissions,” the SGH2 website reads. Why is this good news? In contrast to other energy sources, hydrogen can fuel hard-to decarbonize heavy industrial sectors like steel, heavy transport and cement. It is mainly used to fuel clean vehicles and as electricity. It can also cater to lowest-cost long term storage for electrical grids that rely on renewable energy. New energy finance reports from Bloomberg stress on how hydrogen could reduce up to 34% of global greenhouse emissions from the fossil fuel industry.

The green hydrogen plant will use technology to use different kinds of wastes (from plastic to paper and from tires to textile) to make hydrogen. The plant’s competitive advantage lies in changing the clean energy game to provide “greener than green” hydrogen. This hydrogen is produced from waste gasification and is cost competitive with the cheapest hydrogen available that is produced from fossil fuels like natural gas.

Once the plant becomes fully operational next year, it is predicted to produce 11,000 kilograms of green hydrogen per day and an estimated 3.8 million kilograms per year. The scale of operations for the plant are easily three times bigger than any other hydrogen facility – built or under construction anywhere else in the world. To put things into perspective, an average hydrogen vehicle can go 500 miles on 5 kilograms of the fuel and the average price of the hydrogen fuel is $15 a kilogram which is highly competitive with the traditional gasoline. Thus, making it a better and more sought after alternative.

Currently, the company is in talks with ‘California’s largest owners and operators of hydrogen refueling stations’ to cater to hydrogen power to all of state’s 42 hydrogen refueling stations. This strategic investment is to aim for 100 and eventually 1,000 stations in the near future.

The plant will be using the hydrogen for providing fuel for transportation but also for generation of electricity. The green electricity is generated when oxygen-rich gas is added to a chamber containing a plasma torch that heats the trash to 7,000° F. The rapid change of state from trash to plasma separates the hydrogen atoms from hydrocarbon molecules which are then used for energy.

The plant will also process 42,000 tons of solid waste per year that otherwise would have wound up in landfills. The city of Lancaster will supply guaranteed feedstock of recyclables and is said to save between $50 – $75 per ton in landfilling and landfill space costs. Lastly, the technology is designed to allow it to be scalable to any operation size while using less land and capital to build on than the current green hydrogen plants relying on wind and solar panels to generate power for electrolysis.

About The Author

Seerat Kaur

Seerat Kaur has completed her graduation and post graduation in Economics and Supply Chain and Logistics Management from the University of Warwick, UK. As a part of her degree, she has completed two dissertations which required primary data collection as well as analysis. At Envecologic, she primarily works in research and sustainability partnerships. In the duration of her work, she worked closely in launching the State of Delhi’s Air report, the biggest air pollution survey ever done in the capital.She’s a national level basketball player and loves swimming. Her interests include reading, travelling, sports and music.

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