Global warming is a serious problem and poses a significant threat to the ecosystem through rising temperatures, rising sea levels, water shortage, drought, etc. Moreover, carbon emissions from building construction contribute to this problem considerably.
So, any effort toward reducing carbon emissions in the construction industry is substantially critical. In this regard, hydrogen power is an innovative and environmentally friendly power source for construction sites that can eliminate CO2 emitted from conventional power sources like diesel generators or electricity generated from fossil fuels.
However, current obstacles like the lack of infrastructure for delivering hydrogen may discourage developers from using green hydrogen power. This can be reversed by raising awareness about hydrogen power's benefits, practicalities, and potential for construction projects.
Is the Construction Industry Ready to Adopt Hydrogen Power?
Benefits of Hydrogen Power
Hydrogen power can be used as a reliable source to power construction sites. In addition, it can outrace other weather-dependent green energy sources like wind and solar as hydrogen can be delivered and made available like conventional fuel.
Furthermore, the use of hydrogen power is more sustainable than fossil fuels. It produces power through combustion technology or fuel cells with zero carbon emissions, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxide. So, it helps investors and developers achieve zero carbon emissions that are a target for some countries like the United States and the United Kingdom by 2050.
Finally, hydrogen has a high energy density, making it more appealing than other storage technologies, such as batteries.
It may be argued that hydrogen is not at the same level of advancement or maturity as ordinary power sources. Hence, more technological development is required to tackle practical concerns.
Moreover, storage and delivery of hydrogen could be a challenging task. This is because hydrogen is a light molecule and is required to be compressed to a substantially high-pressure range of 200 to 700 bar or liquefied to a considerably low temperature of around -253°C to make it a practical energy carrier.
However, necessary progress has already been made. For example, certain suppliers like Aggreko will soon offer power generation solutions that use currently available hydrogen transportation methods like tube trailers and multi-cylinder packs as energy sources.
Finally, hydrogen is highly flammable, so on-site personal safety should be guaranteed. Therefore, necessary safety precautions should be in place to avoid accidents.
Current Technological Advancement
Currently, several options are available to use hydrogen power; for instance, hydrogen combustion gensets have been developed that can be used in temporary, emission-free power applications.
Hydrogen can be used to power fuel cells. It converts the chemical energy of the fuel cell into electricity without a combustion process. Therefore, such cells are a clean and efficient method for keeping construction equipment running, especially the ones that need a low-noise operation, as with most urban construction sites.
Economy versus Sustainability
The cost required to harness hydrogen power is approximately three to five times that of diesel energy. However, the cost of hydrogen power can be reduced substantially with the increase in the manufacturing capacity of hydrogen, in combination with the introduction of maturing renewable power generation technologies and capacities. In addition, the zero-emission targets could compel the construction industry to move toward green energy options like hydrogen power.
Moreover, government bodies encourage the use of such green energy sources by offering subsidies to the project developers. At the same time, these bodies scrap the diesel fuel subsidies. California has adopted subsidies for hydrogen or other green sources of energy, and other countries like the United Kingdom may soon follow suit.
The situation may change rapidly, and therefore, the construction industry cannot solely think from a monetary point of view and need to take steps toward a more green energy source.
Hydrogen power can be used as a source of heat and electricity on construction sites. In addition, it can outrace other weather-dependent green energy sources like wind and solar as hydrogen can be delivered and made available like conventional fuel.
Currently, several options are available to use hydrogen power; for instance, hydrogen combustion gensets developed that can be used in temporary, emission-free power applications. In addition, hydrogen can be used to power fuel cells. It converts the chemical energy of the fuel cell into electricity without a combustion process.
Hydrogen is highly flammable, so on-site safety should be guaranteed. Therefore, necessary safety precautions should be in place to avoid undesired events.