Developing a green hydrogen industry could create up to 50,000 new jobs and produce enough hydrogen to replace almost EUR5 billion of fuel imports for Ireland, a leading expert has claimed.
Many European Union states have already published strategies for developing green hydrogen, which can be used widely to power industry, develop large-scale heating and to generate electricity.
However, according to Dr James Carton, assistant professor of sustainable energy at Dublin City University, Ireland could miss an opportunity if its government does not publish its strategy for the fuel soon.
He noted that a green hydrogen industry could provide work for five times the number of people likely to be employed in wind power. Industry estimates put wind energy’s job-creating potential for the country at 10,000.
“Ireland is one of the only EU countries that does not have a hydrogen strategy, we have no policy to regulate it or support it,” Dr Carton said in an interview with The Irish Times.
He added that a strategy document should be straightforward, but was important to encouraging investment in research and development of the fuel.
The Irish government is understood to be planning to publish its strategy later this year.
Hydrogen is made by applying an electric charge to water, separating hydrogen from oxygen. To qualify as green the electricity must come from renewable sources.
Burning hydrogen recombines the gas with oxygen to produce water vapour, so it produces little or no greenhouse gas.
The EU has already pledged to support the development of the fuel, which is even seen as a possible replacement for kerosene in aviation, with EUR150 billion promised over the coming decades as it seeks to move to a net zero position.
Dr Carton explained that wind farms with no connection to the national electricity grid, or whose power is not needed, could be used to produce hydrogen.
He noted that one group, Mercurey Renewables, is already pressing ahead with plans to build a wind-powered green hydrogen plant in County Mayo.
Mercury calculates that the project will need an investment of EUR200 million and create 20 full-time jobs when it is completed in early 2025.
Dr Carton argued that this showed there was potential for other similar investments around Ireland.