By Roland Carson
Hydrogen energy is a topic which often gets discussed but has had little activity given its touted preeminence. Globally, hydrogen action plans and initiatives chalk it up to immature technologies, reliance on carbon-heavy energy production & of course severe lack of infrastructure. It would seem that the deck is stacked against hydrogen as a top choice to bring about an energy revolution, but is hydrogen energy sensationalist or is it substantiated through scientific findings? Is the hang-up merely using hydrogen in the energy sector or are the hang-ups accounted for in how hydrogen is used to supply energy?
One thing is abundantly clear; growing energy demands coupled with decarbonisation goals sets the stage for an overstressed global energy sector. Green energy production simply can’t fulfil baseload energy supply and poses significant logistical challenges in distribution given its decentralised accumulated effort. In addition, technologies for producing and storing hydrogen as an energy carrier have improved dramatically over the past decade which now present a viable alternative to storing energy electrochemically as it is with batteries. A new, simple formula is materialising; harness energy produced through conventional, environmentally sustainable practices then store it as hydrogen to be later distributed and converted into usable electrical energy. Take a look at an example, global natural gas flaring amounted to 143 billion cubic meters in 2021. Representatively speaking, this is the amount needed to power Sub-Saharan Africa. If this gas was converted & stored as hydrogen it could be distributed across the existing grid to be used instead of lost.
A Canadian company is currently developing a proprietary technology and proposing a corresponding strategy which leverages this method of energy distribution. Their forthcoming energy management platform Hydrogen-of-Things (HoT) allows what they are calling micro-producers to commit their produced hydrogen to be purchased, transported and used by consumers in a proximity indicated through their user profile. Curtis Ingleton, Greentech Hydrogen Innovations project leader stated “The true potential of hydrogen energy has not been fully realised as it is predominantly thought of conventionally like with fuel oils. Looking at hydrogen more abstractly allows us to see it is best suited for storing energy collected as waste or produced sustainably.” He went on to mention the metals and minerals required to produce batteries capable of storing equivalent amounts of energy are not readily available.
The Greentech HoT proposal is refreshing for conventional energy producers and not just those producing green energy. According to Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), energy companies in Alberta must manage all waste at their oil and gas facilities. Flaring and venting are two ways in which companies can dispose of their waste gases. Ingleton stated, “We have reviewed innovative proposals for drop-in data centres to make use of otherwise flared or vented gas. This is part of the inspiration behind HoT where the localised production accumulates regionally and can be redistributed readily.” Greentech is banking on a hydrogen energy revolution by approaching the sector with similar theories and techniques known on the Internet-of-Things (IoT) space. The idea has materialised quickly and Greentech has filed provisionally for their patent with plans of completing the final patent into Q4 2022. If secured, the patent will undergird all future development on the platform and pave the way for many future filings.
Greentech is a wholly owned subsidiary of VPN Technologies Inc. [VPN-CSE; SRBBF-OTCQB; 6GQ1-Frankfurt] and is the beneficiary of numerous studies launched by its parent company in the fields of both practical network infrastructure and hydrogen energy. VPN President and CEO, Paul Dickson stated, “We collaborated with various scientists known throughout their respective fields in the formulation of HoT. Our team is excited to finish the next leg of project development and unveil this platform to the industry.” The next phase of development will see their technology through phase 5, 6 & 7 on the TRL scale set forth by Industry Canada. The customer discovery process has already begun, and a number of the hypotheses posed by the company have been verified throughout interviews conducted in 2021. Ingleton summarised, “The system architecture reflects our discussions with a number of experts involved in hydrogen production & consumption. It offers key insights mentioned by those in a position to buy or sell hydrogen regardless of the production method or use case.”
Whether or not an IoT offering can kickstart the hydrogen energy revolution remains uncertain, but Canada’s own hydrogen action plan suggests little in the way of distributing hydrogen for use. Even if existing methods for transportation are used there is insufficient regulatory bodies in place or classifications other than nines purity to assess large volumes of produced hydrogen. All of the burden of proof on this quality currently rests on the producer to offer and the consumer to verify. If Canada is to rely on hydrogen as an energy staple it will take more than siloed technological innovations. Furthermore, if hydrogen production & consumption continues to grow at its current pace there will be a call for market data that is currently sporadic & largely unavailable. Perhaps the Greentech HoT is capable of offering the information necessary to bridge the gap and grow the industry to its full potential?
Learn more about Greentech Hydrogen Innovations Corp.