Today, hydrogen is widely used in industrial processes, but it is currently made from natural gas, which releases large amounts of CO2. Alternatively, hydrogen can also be made through electrolysis, a process which sends an electric current through water splitting the hydrogen and oxygen atoms. In the future, hydrogen produced by electrolysis will create a clean fuel for ground, sea and air transportation. Additionally, hydrogen can be stored as a clean energy carrier to prevent overloading of the electrical grid during peak times.
Offshore wind farms generate large amounts of renewable energy. By 2030, offshore wind farms will generate 11.5 gigawatts of electricity, eventually producing more electricity than onshore wind farms. The challenge will be in economically transporting this clean energy to the grid on land. Hydrogen will be a much cheaper mechanism to transport this energy than an extensive network of heavy cables.
Offshore wind farms not only have an unlimited access to wind but also seawater as well as the sun. Critical to this clean energy system, will be the solar desalination of the seawater. Through the use of nanophotonic-enabled solar membrane distillation, the clean water generated can be the catalyst to create hydrogen via electrolysis. This hydrogen can then readily be generated and used to transport vast amounts of clean energy around the globe.