What is happening in the hydrogen sphere?
Currently there are many different projects on-going and a global effort to scale-up green hydrogen as the replacement for a lot of different operations.
The first hydrogen fuel cell trains are running in Germany, there are over 100 pilot cases for green hydrogen usage in shipping and fossil-fuel green steel has been produced since 2021.
These are all ambitious, but successful projects that see the rise in hydrogen and the price going up with it. But it is still in its infant stages.
How do critical minerals affect the green hydrogen?
Green hydrogen is created through electrolysis. This process requires, among others, anodes.
In technical terms, the PEM electrolysers are the main type that is being used (outside of China) in the current projects regarding green hydrogen.
This anode is made from iridium, which is a precious and very rare metal with a fluctuating price due to its limited availability. Iridium cannot simply be mined more, because it is created from platinum and palladium.
These raw materials, will therefore most likely be going up in price in the future, because in order to gain more iridium, we would need more platinum and palladium.
What is the future alternative?
Because the rare earth materials are in small numbers, another alternative has to be found in order to sustain the growth targets for the green hydrogen sector.
One of these solutions has perhaps been found by H2Pro and their E-TAC solution. In short, this solution uses nickel to their advantage, to create nickel oxyhydroxide and react it with water to produce oxygen.
If this method is successful, nickel could be a solution to the shortage. As we know, nickel is an abundant raw material in the world and there are many reserves for it.
The price of nickel would definitely be affected by this method, if it becomes available on a large industrial scale.
What will happen with the prices of iridium and nickel?
It is hard to predict whether the way of producing green hydrogen will be successful. There are thousands of ongoing projects that will have to determine the validity of each method and the resources used.
In the past years, we have seen the demand for iridium and nickel drive up the price, because of the rise in green hydrogen projects.
The scarcity that this hype creates for any raw material involved, will drive up the price of any raw material, including iridium prices and nickel prices.
The most important thing to do is keep up-to-date with large-scale trial projects, that use different kinds of raw materials. Their success could mean a long-term growth in the price of those materials.