Stronger Push for Hydrogen in Latin AmericaBy Cas Biekmann | Wed, 04/14/2021 - 11:17
The global market is increasing its focus on hydrogen. The trend is gaining momentum in Latin America and Mexico is no exception. The country has now started to examine whether it can ride the hydrogen-powered train.
Hydrogen in itself is a zero-carbon fuel, which can be burned with oxygen. After finding its place powering commercial vehicles and even spacecraft, the industry is looking to take advantage of hydrogen’s benefits in terms of energy generation and storage. The benefits are plenty: as a zero-carbon fuel itself, it can be generated through an ‘electrolysis’ process using surplus green energy not injected into the grid. The resulting ‘green hydrogen’ is considered a very efficient way to store excess green energy and use it when intermittency threatens to become problematic. Hydrogen can be generated using natural gas or other power sources, as well. But its main advantage related to natural gas is how the latter’s current generation and transportation infrastructure could be adapted to run on hydrogen. For a country like Mexico, which is increasingly relying on imported natural gas from the US and expanding its infrastructure to make this possible, this proves to be a promising future avenue. Mexico’s development plan PRODESEN is also referring to hydrogen’s potential for the first time in history, as well.
Hydrogen is not new in Mexico, although one would have to look a bit deeper to find it, said Alberto Escofet, Country Manager of gas giant Enagás in an MBN interview last year. “There are companies, universities and associations in Mexico working on hydrogen developments and they have been doing so for 20 years. The area simply does not receive the same amount of publicity.” Based on a report from Natural Gas Intelligence, initiatives are indeed surfacing at the public and private levels, even though there is no federal push for hydrogen, yet. One example is the Mexican Hydrogen Association (AMH), started by Israel Hurtado who has ample experience in the energy sector as a former CRE Commissioner and as President of Academia Mexicana de Derecho Energético (AMDE) and ASOLMEX. AMH brings together around 30 private companies with energy agencies and trade groups from Coahuila, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Hidalgo, Campeche, Puebla and Nuevo Leon.
“The need and conditions are there to move toward decarbonization. The decline in oil reserves and onshore wells and the high cost of offshore extraction forces us to look for new primary sources of energy. But the most important of all is climate change, which means we need to make decisions and take actions that protect the planet and its species,” Hurtado told Natural Gas Intelligence.
“As demand for low-carbon hydrogen increases around the world, this is an opportunity for Latin America to export low-carbon hydrogen at competitive costs,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report. Latin American countries such as Chile, Brazil and Argentina show particular room for opportunity, as does Mexico, according to Natural Gas Intelligence.