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VIDEO: Green hydrogen revolution & solar surge 

June 13, 2024

The Week in Sustainability – June 10–14, 2024

Solar and hydrogen

Green hydrogen in Europe: A milestone for clean energy

Europe is witnessing a significant advancement in its clean energy initiatives, as evidenced by a groundbreaking agreement between TotalEnergies and Air Products. This 15-year partnership aims to revolutionize the hydrogen supply for TotalEnergies’ European refineries, significantly curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Green hydrogen, produced through the electrolysis of water using renewable energy, stands out as a clean alternative to traditional hydrogen production methods that rely on fossil fuels. This process ensures that the hydrogen fuel produced is entirely free of greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with global sustainability goals.

TotalEnergies, a major player in the energy sector, operates six refineries across Europe. These refineries currently consume substantial amounts of hydrogen. By 2030, TotalEnergies plans to replace 500,000 tons of this hydrogen with green hydrogen, reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 5 million tonnes annually.

With its $15 billion investment in energy transition projects, Air Products is pivotal in this green hydrogen initiative. From 2030 onwards, Air Products will supply 70,000 tons of green hydrogen annually to TotalEnergies’ Northern European refineries, cutting CO2 emissions by 700,000 tonnes yearly. Additionally, TotalEnergies will supply Air Products with solar energy from a 150 MW project in Texas and pursue similar renewable energy collaborations in the UK, Poland, and France.

This collaboration exemplifies how strategic partnerships can accelerate the adoption of green technologies, pushing forward the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The rise of solar power in the U.S.: Overcoming challenges

Imagine a future where the sun powers the world. In the U.S., solar power is becoming increasingly significant in the energy landscape, potentially transforming how we generate electricity.

Solar power accounts for just 4% of the nation’s electricity, which is rapidly changing. Since 2016, solar installations have increased fivefold, and the goal is for solar to contribute 30-50% of America’s electricity within the next decade. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) projects that the U.S.’s total solar capacity will surge from 179 gigawatts (G.W.) today to 673 GW by 2034.

The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that 1 terawatt (1,000 GWs) of solar capacity will be necessary to meet the ambitious target of 100% clean electricity by 2035. This massive leap requires addressing several key challenges.

Improving efficiency and reliability is crucial. While solar power is cost-effective and clean, it still needs to improve reliability, especially regarding energy storage. Current batteries can store excess solar energy only for a few days, and they are costly and degrade over time. Researchers are exploring innovative storage solutions like flow and thermal batteries and advancing AI-assisted battery technologies. The DOE’s Grid Storage Launchpad, opening this year, aims to advance these technologies.

Permitting is another significant hurdle. Securing approval for solar power systems can be a lengthy and complex process. Streamlining this process through permitting reform and adopting technologies like SolarAPP+, an automated permitting platform developed by the DoE, can help overcome these barriers.

Opposition from the fossil fuel industry also poses challenges. Despite this, the share of electricity generated by fossil fuels is decreasing while solar and other clean energy sources are gaining ground.

The mission is to accelerate the adoption of solar and other clean energy sources. This involves innovating to overcome technical obstacles, supporting policies that facilitate deployment, and promoting accurate information within communities. With concerted efforts, the future powered by clean, zero-emissions solar energy is within reach.

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1. ESG Today, "TotalEnergies, Air Products Sign Long-Term Green Hydrogen Supply Agreement." Accessed: June 10, 2024

2. FreeThink, "US hits 180 GW of solar power. Here’s how we get to 1,000 by 2035." Accessed: June 8, 2024

Editorial statement
At Sustain.Life, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Written by practitioners and experts, articles are grounded in research and experience-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by our team of sustainability professionals to ensure content is accurate and aligns with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.
Arcadia Lee
Arcadia is a senior sustainability consultant with over six years of experience in the field. She specializes in net-zero strategic planning and climate action.
Sustain.Life Team
Sustain.Life’s teams of sustainability practitioners and experts often collaborate on articles, videos, and other content.
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