‘Green’ hydrogen from Chile

Jimena Jara Quilodrán, State Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, inaugurates the conference. Photo: GIZ Chile

Jimena Jara Quilodrán, State Secretary in the Ministry of Energy, inaugurates the conference. Photo: GIZ Chile

Hydrogen is one of the most important energy sources of the future. Its industrial production, however, can only be considered sustainable if it uses renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. There were discussions on the newest developments in producing hydrogen with renewable energy sources in May at the first Chilean hydrogen conference in Santiago de Chile. Over 150 experts from 15 countries and more than 80 different companies and institutions spoke, in particular about their use in the energy, mining and transport sectors. As frontrunners in German technology, representatives from the enterprises Linde, Siemens and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) took part in the event.

Panel discussion with the companies Hydrogenics Corporation/Kanada, Engie/ Belgien, Siemens AG/ Deutschland und Linde Gas/ Österreich. Photo: GIZ Chile

The conference was organised by the German Climate Technology Initiative (DKTI) project Promoting Solar Energy in Chile in cooperation with the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) and the Chilean Ministry of Energy. The DKTI project is being supported as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Environment Ministry (BMUB) and is being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and KfW Development Bank.

This April, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed the Paris Agreement in which Chile committed to reducing its CO2 emissions per unit of gross national product by 2030 by 30% against the baseline year of 2007.
An important factor in reducing CO2 emissions in Chile is the mining sector.

Chilean mining uses around 1.8 million cubic metres of diesel fuel each year, of which almost 90% is used for transport within the mines. This corresponds to emissions of around five to six million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. A dump truck of average size uses around 3,000 litres of diesel fuel, which amounts to yearly emissions of more than 3,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per vehicle. An estimated 1,600 dump trucks with over 50 tonnes of load capacity are currently in use in Chilean mining alone.

‘Hydrogen is rightfully named the fuel of the future not only because it is produced using renewable energies, but also because using hydrogen is sustainable and environmentally sound,’ said Markus Böhm, specialist for hydrogen production plants at Siemens, at the conference. Martin Roeb from DLR added: ‘It is to be expected that the production costs for fuel cells will fall and their lifespan extended, which opens up new prospects in the transport sector.’

Rolf Schulze, German Ambassador to Chile. Photo: GIZ Chile.

‘We at the Ministry of Energy are very interested in harnessing the potential of the ‘green’ hydrogen produced in Northern Chile for the country’s sustainable development,’ stressed Andrés Rebolledo. CORFO announced its programme ‘Developing Hybrid Mining Trucks (hydrogen/diesel)’ at the hydrogen conference. The aim of the programme is to create a fleet of hybrid trucks, where 60 to 70% of the diesel they run on is replaced by hydrogen. Eduardo Bitran, Vice President of CORFO, announced a tender for applications for June 2017 for the allocation of special funding. The programme is set to initially last over three years. The aim is to be able to use hydrogen for industrial purposes in the mining sector starting in 2021.