All about hydrogen: Q&A with an innovator in the industry
As part of its “60 Seconds with…” series, the Hydrogen Council talked to Seiji Izumisawa, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) President & CEO, about the prospects of hydrogen and the progress already achieved with this technology.
MHI Group is a supporting member of the Hydrogen Council, a global coalition of leading energy, transport and industry companies with the common vision for hydrogen to foster the energy transition.
Q. What specific activities related to hydrogen is your company currently pursuing?
At MHI Group, we have long understood the potential of hydrogen, which forms an important part of many of our business activities, including energy generation, transport and aerospace.
In the energy sector, hydrogen helps decarbonize traditional power plants and can be used as a reliable, flexible fuel source. At Vattenfall’s Magnum power plant in the Netherlands, MHI Group company Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) is involved in converting a combined-cycle gas turbine to run solely on hydrogen by 2025.
And while MHI Group has been developing the use of hydrogen in the energy sector since the 1970s, we also have years of experience using liquid hydrogen to power our space division’s rocket launches.
Q. Are there any inspiring or exciting hydrogen-related projects that you are involved in, and would like to tell us about?
I am particularly proud of our work using hydrogen as an alternative fuel for power generation. MHPS has successfully tested a large-scale turbine that uses a 30% hydrogen fuel mix. The turbine reduces CO2 emissions by 10%, compared to a standard natural gas-fired plant, and this test is a green light for us to promote the use of hydrogen in thermal power plants.
We are also tackling environmental challenges in traditional heavy industries like steel production. The Green Steelmaking initiative in place at MHI Group company Primetals Technologies replaces natural gas or shale gas with hydrogen to make the production process less carbon-intensive, with almost no emissions.
These are just a few of the steps we are taking towards achieving a carbon-neutral future.
Q. What excites you about the potential for hydrogen use globally?
I am very optimistic about the contribution hydrogen can make in creating a cleaner, more energy-efficient future.
Hydrogen can be easily stored and has the potential to help decarbonize many industrial processes, transport networks and heating systems. And MHI is involved in developing solutions to maximize many of these opportunities.
Previously, producing clean electricity through electrolysis was too costly, but this is now changing as renewables like offshore wind have lowered electricity prices. Once these processes are scaled up, we can produce affordable, CO2-free hydrogen through electrolysis – where the only emission is drinkable water.
Q. How has policy/regulation helped support the effects that you are pursuing in the energy space? In an ideal world, what would you like to see happen next?
In the same way political decisions have guided the development of renewables like wind, solar and hydro power in some parts of the world, policymakers must determine if scaling up the hydrogen sector is a viable proposition. Once the policy framework is in place, MHI will work within it to design solutions that develop this green fuel source.
Japan has been at the forefront of efforts to create a favorable legislative framework for hydrogen, developing a strategy that sets clear targets to expand the sector. In 2019, Japan will host the G20 meeting of world leaders, which provides a global forum for politicians to decide the next steps towards realizing a hydrogen economy.
In Europe, too, initiatives like the Clean Energy Package have set new rules for renewable fuels like hydrogen, and the European Union is discussing future opportunities for hydrogen in its next budget.
This is good news for MHI and the hydrogen sector. But alongside governmental efforts to recognize and develop the sector’s potential, collaborations involving corporations, science and technology also have a part to play in making hydrogen-related products, services and solutions viable options.
This interview was first featured on the Hydrogen Council’s website.