New battery chemistries, high-temperature heat pumps and green hydrogen will lead the ‘second phase’ energy transition technologies that will build on the ongoing wind- and solar-powered shift that is “now gathering momentum” globally toward an integrated, low carbon power system, according to new research from DNV GL.

The need to rapidly reduce carbon emissions if the world is to keep to a 2℃ temperature rise compared to pre-industrial levels – expected to spur a more than doubling of the share of electricity powered by renewables in the final energy demand mix – will put the focus on technologies that can “ significantly accelerate” the decarbonisation of industries such as energy, transport and heating in the next decade, said the consultancy in its latest Technology Outlook report.

“In its first phase the energy transition was focused on decarbonising the power sector, which was effectively done by creating market incentives to promote the uptake of solar and wind energy. Twenty years later, these forms of green power generation are not only safe and reliable but have also become cost-competitive,” said Lucy Craig, VP of technology and innovation at DNV GL – Energy.

“The second phase of the energy transition is shifting towards CO2 intensive industries which are much harder to decarbonise, such as the transport and heating sectors. Therefore, we require equally decisive and binding policy actions to get emerging technologies such as green hydrogen, high-temperature heat pumps and new types of battery storage chemistries off the ground and build momentum for a similar success to that of core decarbonisation technologies.”

DNV GL believes new battery chemistries, led by solid-state designs, will emerge to meet the demand to decarbonise the transport sector; next-generation heat pumps that can operate at temperatures of 200°C will support industrial heat demand; and green hydrogen that can compete against blue hydrogen by 2030 will create new applications for powering both industrial-scale transport and heating.

“The decarbonisation of the transport sector is a major driving force for the development of new types of battery storage technologies. Currently, lithium-Ion (Li-ion) constitutes 95-99% of the batteries used in the transportation industry. Yet, this widely adopted rechargeable battery is not optimal for safety or resource-utilisation,” said the report authors.

“Solid-state batteries can have three times higher energy density and potentially double the cycle life of current Li-ion batteries [and] have the potential to address most of the [environmental and resource] concerns of present-day Li-ion batteries.”

The global heating sector, which represents the largest single end-use of energy, contributing 30% of global CO₂ emissions in 2018, will “similarly to the transport industry, be transformed due to the growing political demands to decarbonise”, said the authors.

“Using heat pumps for space heating is not new, but the focus on reducing CO2 emissions and the increased use and excess supply of electricity enable this technology to scale, and with scale comes a reduction in cost.”

DNV GL forecasts green hydrogen competing with blue hydrogen by 2030, as rising demand for scale-up “significantly reduces” the capital costs for electrolysers, for systems that operate mainly when electricity prices are low.

“In this scenario, electrolysers operate intermittently, in step with fluctuating power prices, and hydrogen storage or complementary blue hydrogen production is available to ensure hydrogen supply,” said the authors.

DNV GL expects electrolysis to become “a common part of hydrogen supply” between 2030 and 2035, depending on the price of natural gas – in turn isinfluenced by the cost of CO2 emissions, the duration of oversupply of variable renewables, and predicted cost reductions for the development for electrolysers.

“In the manufacturing industry, hydrogen has the potential to replace coal and gas for cleaner heating processes where electric heating with heat pumps or direct electric heating is not suitable,” said the report authors. “It can also start replacing cokes as a reduction agent in iron and steel production beyond 2030, which could significantly reduce emissions.”