It seems the Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) is looking to tap into another source of energy: hydrogen.
The DOE recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Tokyo-based Hydrogen Technology Inc (HTI) to explore the use of hydrogen as a fuel for power generation, meaning cleaner energy for the grid. According to DOE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, this will enable the country to fast-track its research and development (R&D) activities for hydrogen.
"The DOE, with the creation of the Hydrogen and Fusion Energy Committee (HFEC), commits to exploring hydrogen as a viable alternative and cleaner source of energy and its other beneficial applications for the Filipino people," said Cusi.
For the DOE Secretary, he wants to bring hydrogen power to the country and conduct trials for its possible use in the future. He is also hoping that with the MOU, the model for hydrogen power will be made into a reality in the Philippines.
The national grid is largely comprised of a variety of non-renewable power plants. Coal, natural gas, and oil-based power plants form up the bulk of local energy. Hydroelectric, wind, solar, biomass form up the minority.
There's no exact framework or timeline yet on how the DOE will be able to develop the use of hydrogen as an energy source, but we're wondering: can this trial and research program pave the way for fuel cell vehicles in the country?
Like EVs, hydrogen-powered cars (or fuel cell electric vehicles) don't rely on internal combustion engines. But unlike traditional EVs that rely on battery power for propulsion, FCEVs do it differently. In an FCEV, hydrogen and oxygen get mixed inside a fuel cell which produces an electro-chemical reaction that propels cars. In a sense, an FCEV acts just like a battery-powered EV except that it uses hydrogen as its fuel source instead of plugging into an outlet or a charging station. The only byproduct of this process is water.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles rely on the presence of specific infrastructure for refueling the tanks with hydrogen. Should the DOE's plans for a hydrogen future bear fruit, it could show automakers that FCEVs are viable in our market, opening the door for models like the Honda Clarity FCEV, Toyota Mirai, and the Hyundai Nexo.
But first, the DOE will focus on energy generation. It will be interesting to see what develops if hydrogen becomes a viable energy source for the grid.