One of the world’s top clean energy generators NextEra Energy Inc. has announced its intentions to wipe out its carbon dioxide emissions by 2045 without the use of carbon offsets.
Instead, the clean energy major is making what can be considered one of the biggest bets so far on hydrogen as the key component in the global energy mix.
NextEra Energy owns one of the world’s largest wind and solar power developers and is also the operator of Florida Power & Light.
With its new ambitious plan, the company will aim to convert over two-thirds of its natural gas power plants into hydrogen-powered plants, where the fuel would be made from renewables using electrolyzers.
But beyond transforming its own operations, NextEra will also be seeking to spearhead the decarbonization of heavy industry, transportation and other power plants across the US by offering hydrogen production and infrastructure development.
The venture is by no means an easy one, with many technical and financial obstacles that are yet to be overcome.
Green hydrogen (that results in no CO2 emissions) is particularly costly to produce using renewable energy sources and only a small percentage of hydrogen is produced this way today.
Another hurdle has to do with the large amount of energy lost in the process of producing hydrogen with electricity.
To combat these issues, NextEra will need to invest in expensive upgrades to its natural gas pipelines and turbines to eliminate the risk of leakages and other safety issues, which is especially concerning now that scientists have warned that too much hydrogen in the atmosphere may, in fact, contribute to climate change.
However, NextEra Chief Executive Officer John Ketchum is certain that the demand for electrolyzer manufacturing is on the verge of exploding and that will be one of the factors to help bring manufacturing costs of green hydrogen down in the near future.