Last Thursday, November 25 and Friday, November 26, the R Summit was held, the first meeting that promotes the circular economy and promotes the culture of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, in addition to raising awareness about a radical transformation in how we relate to the environment and the catastrophic consequences that ignoring the effects of the climate crisis has had for humanity.
More than 40 conversation panels and prominent exhibitors commented on initiatives to take care of our planet, as well as experiences and strategies aligned with sustainable development.
One of the main topics discussed was the commitment at the country level to incorporate and develop hydrogen through renewable energies with low emissions in different activities and operations in Chile.
Max Correa, head of the Fuel and New Energy division of the Ministry of Energy, said that hydrogen “is a chemical element and is the most abundant molecule in the universe. It is used as an industrial gas, where its purpose is mainly for the production of fertilizer, for the refining of fuel and we use it well. But now we want to use it as an energy source, because we can use it or burn it without emitting greenhouse gases.”
Asunción Borrás, director of the Chilean Hydrogen Association (H2 Chile), for her part, said that currently “there are different ways in the production of hydrogen. We have to take it out of the component where we normally find it: water. Today, 94% of the hydrogen used in the world is produced through burning natural gas, and that is polluting. So what we want to do now is move that production to an electrolysis of water, and capture the hydrogen.”
Mining and green hydrogen
Currently, this practice is already being carried out in different areas of the country. One of them is mining, one of the main economic activities of the country, where it seeks to achieve clean and sustainable energy development.
Rodrigo Subiabre, Vice President of Technology and Innovation at Anglo American, highlighted the importance of green hydrogen in the sector.
“Our experience started a few years ago, with the first floating solar plant on a tailings dam, which in 2019 we installed in our warehouse in Las Tórtolas. This plant allows to generate electrical energy equivalent to what 70 houses spend and this could be doubled by having a hydrogen plant. Now, we go one step further by producing the first green hydrogen molecule to mobilize a team, in our case, a three-ton forklift crane,” he said.
“This allowed us to demonstrate that the technology operates and that it is possible to advance at a steady pace in one of the most relevant objectives of Anglo American in Chile and its operations in the world: to implement this technology throughout our fleet of trucks. On a global scale, within the next few months it will be the pilot test of a first hydrogen truck and all the accompanying infrastructure at our Mogalakwena mine in South Africa.”
Regarding the future, the expert indicated that the mining company’s plans are to implement this technology in seven of its operations in the world by 2030 and thus displace diesel definitively.
For his part, Correa stressed that mining consumes a lot of energy. “The fact that Anglo American and other mining companies are working on technologies to displace diesel by renewable sources is tremendous news and is a very large source of demand for the domestic hydrogen industry to take off.”
Regarding future challenges, “the good news is that, contrary to what you may think, little water is used. With 10 liters of water one makes a kilo of hydrogen. To take it to a more pedestre example, with a kilo of hydrogen one could mobilize a car in a fuel cell of 100 km. At a more macro level, if one wanted to replace all the diesel used by mining in Chile, it would require using 1% of the water that mining already uses, therefore, mining could be carbon neutral without skipping any step, “said Max Correa.
Likewise, Subiabre concluded that the first thing that is missing is to communicate and socialize on this subject to all people. In addition, he added that among the mining companies the idea is to collaborate and not compete on this issue. “We have a golden age when we can be leaders as a country. We have talked with the other mining companies and we are all on the same path.”
Entrthe speakers of Cumbre R were also the former Minister of the Environment, Carolina Schmidt; the Metropolitan Regional Governor, Claudio Orrego; the COP25 Champion, Gonzalo Muñoz; the COORDINATOR of Circular Economy of the OECD, Oriana Romano; the director of the World Green Building Council, Catriona Brady; the director of CR2 at the University of Chile, Maisa Rojas, among others.
Exhibitions are available in www.CumbreR.cl