It seems that hydrogen can be used to replace coking coal for smelting steel. If that hydrogen is made from surplus energy from renewable generation, that's a huge potential reduction in carbon emissions:
@strypey I thought it was an improvement even if the hydrogen came from gas.
I'm don't think we would be able to install enough renewable power to produce all the electricity we consume and generate enough hydrogen for heavy industry usage (the demand is huge), but if you have information on that I'd be very interested.
One of the common criticisms of renewables is that many forms generate the most energy at times of off-peak usage. Making hydrogen is proposed as one way to store and use this surplus energy without massive battery banks. Solving the overall problem of making electricity supply match demand without fossil fuel generation requires diversification of renewable generation. In volcanic islands countries like Aotearoa, for example, geothermal and tidal are potential baseline sources.
It can, but you need a totally different kind of refinery. One that purifies iron oxide, heats it up, and passes pure, unburnt hydrogen through it. Conveniently, old-school burning coke/limestone/ore produces a reducing gas, and separates the impurities as slag.
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