So-called 'green hydrogen' can play a major part in Ireland's transition to a low-emissions economy and society but urgently needs a national strategy to catch up with other European nations.
That is according to a comprehensive new report, commissioned by Wind Energy Ireland, to examine the role of green hydrogen as Ireland outlines targets towards 2030 and up to 2050 and beyond.
Green hydrogen produces energy through the electrolysis of water, while eliminating emissions by using renewable energy.
Its supporters say it could completely revolutionise clean energy, while its detractors say it is too cumbersome and costly to achieve on a mass scale.
However, Cork renewable energy expert and lead author of the new report by Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions (GDG), a specialist geotechnical engineering consultancy, Dr Cian Desmond, said "the potential for the domestic green hydrogen market is enormous".
A self-described sceptic of adaptation of green hydrogen on a mass scale previously, Mr Desmond told thethat he was now a "complete convert" as technology improved and associated costs plummeted.
The GDG report concluded that Ireland’s abundant wind energy resources could produce vast quantities of green hydrogen, which can be used to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels — a major cause of spiralling electricity prices in the second half of last year.
It also found that green hydrogen is a leading option for reducing emissions from the likes of industry and transport, and could be used to provide electricity during periods of low wind or solar energy.
However, Ireland is lagging behind other European countries when it comes to spelling out a green hydrogen strategy, Wind Energy Ireland said.
The body called for a "robust hydrogen strategy" by the end of June which would "set out targets across industry, heavy road transport, shipping, aviation and power generation".
It also called for an "immediate high-level cross-government group to develop recommendations to cut the price of renewable electricity so we can produce green hydrogen as cheaply as possible and compete internationally".