Israeli company H2Pro claims its highly efficient water-splitting technology will deliver green hydrogen at less than US$1 per kilogram before 2030. That’s a big deal; it would represent a 60-80 percent drop in green H2 prices, down to a level where it’s cheaper per unit of energy than current retail gasoline prices in the United States. The Hydrogen Council’s current projections don’t expect that kind of price drop until 2050, and even then it’s a best-case scenario.
Assuming distribution can be ramped up pronto, and assuming a carbon price of US$100 per ton of CO2 equivalent, it could immediately make hydrogen cost-competitive across a range of applications, from buses, trucks, trains and cars to replacing coal in steel production and natural gas in ammonia production and refinery use. Even without a carbon tax, it’d still be a terrific option to replace diesel in road and rail transport.
Some serious players are getting on board as H2Pro moves from the test bench into production – Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Ventures, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, Hyundai motor company, Sumimoto Corporation – although the recent fundraising round total of US$22 million looks more like a toe dipped in the bath than a plunge into the water, a rather cautious approach given the company’s claims. The devil’s in the detail with these things, so let’s have a closer look.
What exactly is the promise here?
In a promotional video, H2Pro says its E-TAC water splitting process is “the first technology to deliver energy efficiency of 95 percent … compared to 70 percent of water electrolysis.” The E-TAC devices, it says, are “inexpensive … scalable, safer, and operate at higher pressure … By 2023, we will deliver hydrogen at under US$2 per kilogram, and later this decade, at under US$1.” A press release further clarifies: “coupled with anticipated reductions in the cost of renewable energy, H2Pro’s technology will enable $1/kg green hydrogen at scale – making it the world’s lowest cost green hydrogen.”