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Storage of Hydrogen Gas Efficiently and Safely

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iscover the innovative solutions revolutionizing the storage of hydrogen gas for enhanced efficiency and safety. From cutting-edge materials to advanced storage technologies, this article explores the key strategies and breakthroughs reshaping the landscape of hydrogen storage. Explore the fascinating world of hydrogen storage and unlock the potential for a sustainable future.

Written By Genius Gurus – Hydrogen
Fact Checked By Editorial Team
April 3rd, 2024

Key Takeaways:
  • Historical methods of storing hydrogen involved using hollow tubes and balloons, but modern techniques have evolved for efficiency and safety.
  • 20th-century innovations like high-pressure tanks and liquefaction revolutionized hydrogen storage for diverse applications, such as rocket propulsion and space missions.
  • Modern advances include cryo-compressed storage and material-based solutions like metal hydrides and carbon-based materials, enhancing storage density and safety.
  • Storage methods like compressed hydrogen, liquid hydrogen, and cryo-compressed storage offer different advantages and challenges, impacting energy efficiency and feasibility.
  • Safety considerations, risk assessments, regulatory compliance, and environmental impacts play crucial roles in ensuring the safe and sustainable storage of hydrogen gas.
  • History and Development of Hydrogen Gas Storage

    <a href='https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/28/Hydrogen_Peroxide_Tank_Car.jpg'>Niklaus Yager</a> CC-BY-SA-4.0 Via Wikimedia Commons
    Niklaus Yager CC-BY-SA-4.0 Via Wikimedia Commons

    Early Methods and Techniques

    The history of storing hydrogen gas dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries when scientists first isolated and experimented with the element. Initially, hydrogen was stored simply by containing it in hollow tubes and balloons. These early methods, though innovative for their time, were rudimentary and lacked the sophistication and safety measures of modern techniques. Hydrogen's low density and high reactivity presented significant challenges, leading researchers to continuously seek more effective solutions. During the early stages of hydrogen research, scientists such as Antoine Lavoisier and Henry Cavendish laid the foundation for hydrogen gas storage. Cavendish's experiments in the 1760s demonstrated the potential of hydrogen, though storage remained a critical barrier. Balloons filled with hydrogen were primarily used for scientific experiments and early aeronautics; however, their susceptibility to leaks and explosions highlighted the need for more advanced storage solutions.

    As the understanding of hydrogen broadened, attempts to compress and contain hydrogen in metal vessels began. However, these attempts were often hampered by metal embrittlement caused by hydrogen atoms weakening and breaking down the metal structure. This phenomenon, known as hydrogen embrittlement, became a significant obstacle to safe hydrogen storage, spurring further inquiry into more resilient materials.

    Innovations in 20th-Century Storage Solutions

    The 20th century witnessed remarkable advancements in the field of hydrogen storage, driven by both scientific curiosity and industrial necessity. Post-World War II, the aerospace industry significantly impacted hydrogen storage technologies. The development of rockets and the need for efficient fuel provided a fertile ground for innovation.

    Highest pressure storage tanks revolutionized hydrogen storage, enabling practical utilization in diverse applications like rocket propulsion.

    During this period, the introduction of high-pressure storage tanks transformed how hydrogen was stored and utilized. These pressure vessels, often made from strong alloys and composites, could store hydrogen at pressures up to 700 bar or higher, minimizing the volume needed to store substantial amounts of gas. This advancement allowed hydrogen to be more practically used in various applications, including as a rocket propellant.

    Another pivotal advancement in the latter half of the century was the liquefaction of hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen storage, primarily adopted by NASA, enabled the efficient use of hydrogen as a fuel in space missions. This method required cooling hydrogen to temperatures below -253°C, presenting technological challenges in terms of insulation and energy consumption. Nevertheless, the benefits, particularly for space exploration, outweighed these difficulties, driving continued improvements in liquefaction technologies.

    Modern Advances in Hydrogen Gas Storage

    Today, hydrogen storage has reached new heights with diverse and sophisticated methods tailored to specific applications. The need to support a hydrogen economy and combat climate change has spurred extensive research into practical, safe, and cost-effective hydrogen storage solutions. One of the most promising contemporary methods is cryo-compressed hydrogen storage. Combining the principles of both compression and cryogenic storage, cryo-compressed storage involves storing hydrogen at cryogenic temperatures and under moderate pressure, maximizing storage density and efficiency.

    Another front of modern advancements is material-based storage methods, such as metal hydrides and carbon-based materials. Metal hydrides, for instance, store hydrogen by chemically bonding it with metal alloys. These materials can store hydrogen at much lower pressures and ambient temperatures, offering a safer alternative to high-pressure storage. Carbon-based materials, including graphene and carbon nanotubes, provide high surface areas and favorable binding characteristics, significantly enhancing hydrogen storage capabilities.

    Physical Storage Methods for Hydrogen Gas

    Compressed Hydrogen Storage

    Compressed hydrogen storage in high-pressure tanks using materials like carbon fiber is a simple and effective method widely used, particularly in the automotive sector.

    Compressed hydrogen storage is one of the most straightforward and widely-used methods for storing hydrogen gas. This method involves containing hydrogen in high-pressure tanks, usually at pressures ranging from 350 to 700 bar. High-strength materials like carbon fiber are typically employed to construct these tanks, ensuring they can withstand such extreme pressures. The storage of hydrogen gas in this manner is beneficial for its simplicity and effectiveness in various applications, especially in the automotive sector.

    The history of compressed hydrogen storage dates back to the early 20th century, where it was initially used for industrial applications. Over the century, significant advancements have been made to improve the safety and efficiency of these storage tanks. For example, modern advancements have led to the development of composite tanks that are lighter and more durable than their metal counterparts.

    Despite its advantages, one of the challenges with compressed hydrogen storage is the energy required to achieve high compression levels. Compressing hydrogen to such high pressures consumes a considerable amount of energy, thereby impacting the overall efficiency of this storage method. However, ongoing research aims to develop more energy-efficient compressors and tank designs to mitigate these drawbacks.

    Liquid Hydrogen Storage

    Liquid hydrogen storage offers a compact solution for high energy density applications, such as aerospace and long-term storage, by achieving cryogenic temperatures of -252.87°C.

    Another method for the storage of hydrogen gas is in its liquid form, achieved by cooling hydrogen to cryogenic temperatures of -252.87°C (-423.17°F). Liquid hydrogen storage is particularly useful for applications that require high energy densities, such as aerospace and long-term storage. The main advantage of liquid hydrogen is its compact volume, which is significantly smaller compared to its gaseous state at standard conditions.

    Did you know that hydrogen gas can be stored efficiently at high pressures of up to 700 bar, or approximately 10,000 pounds per square inch (psi)? This allows for compact storage solutions, ideal for applications such as fuel cell vehicles.

    However, converting hydrogen into its liquid form comes with its own set of challenges. The liquefaction process is energy-intensive, requiring sophisticated cryogenic technology. Additionally, maintaining liquid hydrogen at its remarkably low boiling point demands reliable insulation systems to minimize boil-off losses. Despite these technical challenges, liquid hydrogen storage is seen as a promising option for large-scale and long-duration energy applications.

    Recent innovations in cryogenic technology have made liquid hydrogen storage more viable. Advances in insulation materials and techniques have reduced boil-off rates, making it possible to store liquid hydrogen efficiently for longer periods. Furthermore, collaborative efforts between governments and private sectors are driving research to enhance the feasibility and safety of this storage method.

    Cryo-Compressed Hydrogen Storage

    Cryo-compressed hydrogen storage offers higher storage densities by combining cryogenic temperatures with higher pressures, bridging the gap between high-pressure and cryogenic storage methods.

    Cryo-compressed hydrogen storage is an emerging technology that combines the benefits of high-pressure and cryogenic storage. In this method, hydrogen is stored at cryogenic temperatures but at relatively higher pressures compared to traditional liquid hydrogen storage. This combination allows for higher storage densities without the extreme cryogenic requirements of storing hydrogen at atmospheric pressure.

    The development of cryo-compressed hydrogen storage is driven by the need for more efficient and practical storage solutions. Research institutions and companies around the world are actively exploring how to optimize this technology. For instance, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has developed advanced cryo-compressed systems that demonstrate significantly higher capacities and improved thermal management.

    Cryo-compressed hydrogen storage aims to balance storage density and energy consumption through efficient insulation and advanced materials, offering a high-capacity solution with potential for broader adoption in transportation and sectors.

    One of the primary challenges in cryo-compressed hydrogen storage is achieving a balance between storage density and energy consumption. Efficient insulation and advanced materials are crucial in addressing these challenges. As the technology matures, it promises to offer a versatile and high-capacity solution for hydrogen storage, paving the way for its broader adoption in various sectors, including transportation and renewable .

    Material-Based Storage Solutions

    Metal Hydrides and Alloys

    Metal hydrides and alloys have emerged as promising materials for storing hydrogen due to their high hydrogen storage capacity, reversibility, and safety. These materials form solid-state storage systems and can store hydrogen through chemisorption. Metal hydrides operate at moderate temperatures and pressures, making them suitable for various applications. For instance, rare earth-based metal hydrides offer high storage capacities, making them suitable for portable fuel cell applications in vehicles, while transition metal hydrides are well-suited for stationary and industrial energy storage.

    Research has concentrated on enhancing hydrogen absorption and desorption kinetics in metal hydrides for increased efficiency and employing alloy formulations to improve thermodynamic properties and reduce weight for overcoming commercialization challenges.

    In recent years, research has focused on enhancing the kinetics of hydrogen absorption and desorption in metal hydrides to improve their overall efficiency. Additionally, advancements in alloy formulations have led to improved thermodynamic properties and reduced weight, addressing key challenges in the commercialization of metal hydride-based storage systems.

    One notable example of metal hydride application is in hydrogen-powered forklifts in industrial settings. These forklifts use metal hydride storage systems, offering a safe and efficient means of hydrogen storage for powering material handling equipment.

    Carbon-Based Storage Methods

    Carbon-based materials, such as activated carbons, carbon nanotubes, and graphene, have gained attention for their potential in hydrogen storage. These materials possess large surface areas and tailored porosities, which enable the physisorption of hydrogen molecules. While physisorption typically requires cryogenic temperatures or high pressures, the use of advanced porous carbon materials has shown promise in enhancing the adsorption capacities at near-ambient conditions.

    Research on functionalization and hybridization of carbon-based materials has enhanced their hydrogen storage performance, bringing them closer to practical applications.

    Moreover, the tunable properties of carbon-based materials allow for the design of storage systems with improved adsorption kinetics and desorption capabilities. Researchers have been exploring various techniques, such as functionalization and hybridization, to modify the surface chemistry of carbon-based materials, thereby enhancing their hydrogen storage performance. This has led to the development of novel carbon-based composite materials with enhanced sorption properties, bringing them closer to practical hydrogen storage applications.

    Anecdotal evidence reveals the use of carbon-based materials in hydrogen-powered drones, where lightweight and efficient hydrogen storage systems are essential for prolonged flight durations. The application of carbon-based storage methods has enabled the advancement of drone technology, offering extended operational capabilities beyond conventional -powered systems.

    Nano-Materials for Hydrogen Storage

    Nano-materials, such as MOFs and porous polymers, show promise for hydrogen storage due to their exceptional porosity and high surface area, enabling high uptake capacities under low-temperature and moderate-pressure conditions.

    Nano-materials, including metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and porous polymers, represent a burgeoning area of research in hydrogen storage. These materials exhibit exceptional porosity and surface area, providing ample sites for hydrogen adsorption. The precisely engineered nanostructures enable high hydrogen uptake capacities and offer the potential for low-temperature and moderate-pressure storage conditions.

    Moreover, the tunability of nano-materials at the molecular level allows for tailored surface interactions, enhancing the affinity for hydrogen molecules. This fine control over the material properties has driven significant advancements in the development of nano-material-based hydrogen storage systems, with a focus on achieving practical storage densities and efficient reversible adsorption-desorption processes.

    One notable example is the integration of nano-materials in portable fuel cell power packs for outdoor recreational activities, where lightweight and compact hydrogen storage solutions are crucial for providing clean and reliable power. The use of nano-materials has facilitated the miniaturization of energy storage systems, enabling the seamless integration of hydrogen technology into portable consumer applications.

    Chemical Storage Methods

    <a href='https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/Hyundai_nexo_high_pressure_hydrogen_tank_safety.jpg'>hyundai</a> CC-BY-SA-4.0 Via Wikimedia Commons
    hyundai CC-BY-SA-4.0 Via Wikimedia Commons

    Hydrogen-Rich Compounds

    Hydrogen-rich compounds, such as ammonia borane and alane, have gained attention as potential hydrogen storage materials due to their ability to release hydrogen at moderate temperatures and pressures. These compounds offer a high gravimetric density, thus holding a significant amount of hydrogen per unit weight. Furthermore, ongoing research and development aim to enhance the reversibility of hydrogen release from these compounds, which is a crucial factor for their practical implementation. The utilization of hydrogen-rich compounds holds promise for addressing the challenges of safe and efficient hydrogen storage, particularly for mobile applications such as fuel cell vehicles.

    Efforts to enhance the thermodynamics and kinetics of hydrogen release from these compounds are driving advancements in the field, with the potential for breakthroughs in hydrogen storage technology. Researchers are exploring new synthetic routes and materials to optimize the properties of hydrogen-rich compounds, marking a promising trajectory for the future of chemical hydrogen storage.

    Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHCs)

    Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHCs) have emerged as a viable approach for hydrogen storage, utilizing organic compounds such as methylcyclohexane and dibenzyltoluene. These carriers offer the advantage of storing hydrogen in a liquid form at ambient conditions, simplifying handling and distribution. The reversible hydrogenation and dehydrogenation of LOHCs enable the release and uptake of hydrogen, making them an attractive option for energy storage and transportation applications.

    The intrinsic safety and stability of LOHCs, coupled with their compatibility with existing infrastructure, position them as a promising storage solution for integrating hydrogen into various energy systems. The utilization of LOHCs not only addresses the challenges of hydrogen storage and transportation but also aligns with the broader objectives of sustainable energy deployment and decarbonization.

    Adsorption Technologies

    Adsorption-based hydrogen storage technologies involve the confinement of hydrogen molecules on the surface of solid materials through physisorption or chemisorption processes. Materials such as activated carbons, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), and porous polymers exhibit high specific surface areas and tailored pore structures, enabling efficient hydrogen uptake at moderate pressures and near-ambient temperatures. The tunable properties of adsorbent materials allow for the customization of storage conditions and capacities, offering flexibility in system design and operation.

    Continued research in adsorption technologies focuses on optimizing the sorption kinetics, capacity, and stability of materials to meet the stringent requirements for practical hydrogen storage. The development of advanced adsorbents with enhanced hydrogen uptake and release characteristics presents a pathway toward realizing cost-effective and reliable hydrogen storage systems, supporting the transition toward a hydrogen-based economy.

    Safety Considerations in Hydrogen Storage

    Material and Equipment Safety

    Ensuring material and equipment safety is paramount in the storage of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen is highly flammable and can pose significant risks if not handled properly. Therefore, storage materials and equipment must be designed and maintained to withstand the unique properties of hydrogen. Specialized materials such as carbon fiber-reinforced tanks and high-strength steel are commonly used to contain and transport hydrogen safely. Moreover, equipment such as pressure relief devices and safety sensors play a crucial role in preventing overpressurization and detecting leaks, ensuring the safety of the storage systems.

    Furthermore, strict quality control measures and regular inspections are necessary to identify any potential deterioration or defects in the storage materials and equipment. Continuous monitoring and maintenance help mitigate the risks associated with hydrogen storage, ensuring the integrity and safety of the storage infrastructure.

    Risk Assessment and Mitigation

    Conducting thorough risk assessments is imperative for identifying, analyzing, and mitigating potential hazards associated with hydrogen storage. Risk mitigation strategies encompass a range of measures, including implementing robust design standards, employing safety protocols, and conducting emergency response drills. By utilizing advanced technologies such as leak detection systems, pressure relief devices, and fail-safe mechanisms, risks can be effectively minimized.

    It is also crucial to consider the surrounding environment and potential impact zones when assessing hydrogen storage risks. Local infrastructure and population density play pivotal roles in determining the appropriate mitigation measures. Collaboration with regulatory authorities and emergency response teams is vital to ensure a comprehensive approach to risk assessment and mitigation, thereby enhancing the overall safety of hydrogen storage facilities.

    Regulatory Compliance and Standards

    Adherence to stringent regulatory standards and compliance with industry-specific guidelines are fundamental to maintaining the safety of hydrogen storage facilities. Regulatory bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) establish comprehensive standards for the design, installation, and operation of hydrogen storage systems. These standards encompass material compatibility, pressure containment, structural integrity, and emergency response procedures, ensuring that the storage facilities meet the highest safety requirements.

    Additionally, regular audits and inspections by regulatory agencies are conducted to verify compliance with safety standards and to address any potential safety concerns. Continuous training and education of personnel involved in hydrogen storage operations are also essential to guarantee adherence to safety protocols and industry best practices, thereby fostering a culture of safety and compliance within the hydrogen storage sector.

    Efficiency and Feasibility of Hydrogen Storage

    Energy Efficiency in Various Storage Methods

    When evaluating the energy efficiency of hydrogen storage methods, it is vital to consider the entire process, including input energy, conversion efficiency, and output energy. Compressed hydrogen storage, a prominent method, involves compressing hydrogen gas to high pressures, which demands substantial energy input. Conversely, liquid hydrogen storage exhibits superior energy density, particularly in applications with space constraints, yet the energy required for liquefaction and vaporization should not be overlooked. Cryo-compressed hydrogen storage seeks to mitigate the drawbacks of both compressed and liquid storage, promising improved energy efficiency through a combination of cryogenic temperatures and compression. These methods illustrate the intricate interplay between energy efficiency, storage capacity, and practical implementation.

    Furthermore, material-based storage solutions present varying levels of energy efficiency. Metal hydrides and alloys offer a promising avenue, with their reversibility and potential for high hydrogen capacity. Carbon-based storage methods, including graphene and carbon nanotubes, also present notable energy efficiency, bolstered by advancements in material science and nanotechnology. Nano-materials for hydrogen storage, displaying enhanced surface area and reactivity, exhibit potential for high energy efficiency, albeit at a nascent developmental stage. While these methods hold promise, it is critical to weigh their energy efficiency against practical considerations, such as scalability and commercial viability.

    Economic Feasibility and Cost Analysis

    The economic feasibility of hydrogen storage frameworks extends beyond initial deployment costs, encompassing the entire lifecycle expenses, including maintenance, operation, and eventual decommissioning. Compressed hydrogen storage, while relatively mature, necessitates robust infrastructure for safe containment and transportation, influencing its overall economic feasibility. Liquid hydrogen storage, while efficient in terms of energy density, confronts substantial investment in cryogenic equipment and specialized handling, thus affecting its economic viability. Cryo-compressed storage, with its potential to blend the favorable attributes of compressed and liquid storage, yet requires comprehensive cost analysis to ascertain its long-term viability.

    Material-based storage solutions, such as metal hydrides, encounter challenges related to material costs and manufacturing complexity, necessitating detailed cost-benefit evaluations. Carbon-based storage methods, although exhibiting potential for cost-efficient scalability, warrant meticulous consideration of production and purification expenses. As for nano-materials, their commercial viability hinges on advances in scalable synthesis and production technologies. A comprehensive cost analysis of these material-based solutions is fundamental for elucidating their economic feasibility and market competitiveness.

    Environmental Impact and

    Amid an era of heightened environmental consciousness, the sustainability of hydrogen storage methods assumes paramount importance. Aspects such as emissions during manufacturing, transportation, and utilization, alongside the potential for end-of-life recycling, underpin the environmental evaluation of storage technologies. Compressed hydrogen storage, whilst established, necessitates stringent assessment regarding carbon footprint, energy consumption, and safety measures, aligning with sustainability imperatives. Liquid hydrogen storage, despite its high energy density, requires rigorous scrutiny regarding the environmental impact of cryogenic liquefaction processes and insulation materials.

    Furthermore, the environmental sustainability of material-based storage methods, such as metal hydrides and carbon-based solutions, calls for holistic assessment encompassing resource extraction, manufacturing practices, and recyclability. The development of nano-materials for hydrogen storage demands meticulous consideration of potential environmental implications arising from advanced synthesis techniques and resource utilization. Evaluating the environmental impact and sustainability of these storage methods not only aligns with regulatory imperatives but also serves as a driver for continued innovation toward greener and more sustainable hydrogen storage technologies.

    Applications and Uses of Stored Hydrogen

    <a href='https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/Toyota_Mirai_high-pressure_hydrogen_tank_SAO_2016_9036.jpg'>Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz)</a> CC-BY-SA-4.0 Via Wikimedia Commons
    Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) CC-BY-SA-4.0 Via Wikimedia Commons

    Transportation and Automotive Storage

    Transportation and automotive industries are increasingly looking towards hydrogen as a sustainable and efficient energy source. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles offer several advantages, including zero emissions, fast refueling times, and long driving ranges. Moreover, hydrogen can play a crucial role in decarbonizing the transportation sector, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. As of 2021, there were approximately 25,000 fuel cell vehicles in operation globally, with many major automotive manufacturers investing in the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles. The growing infrastructure for hydrogen refueling stations further supports the expansion of hydrogen-based transportation.

    Authorities in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Germany have been at the forefront of promoting hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with ambitious targets set to increase the number of hydrogen refueling stations. The application of stored hydrogen in transportation aligns with the global shift towards renewable and sustainable energy solutions, paving the way for a greener and cleaner future for the automotive sector.

    Industrial Applications and Bulk Storage

    Hydrogen has diverse applications across various industrial sectors, including the production of ammonia, methanol, and petroleum refining. It serves as a critical feedstock for the production of fertilizers and plays a vital role in the synthesis of numerous chemicals. Additionally, hydrogen is utilized in the food industry for hydrogenation processes and in electronics manufacturing for deposition processes. The demand for industrial hydrogen is substantial, with large-scale storage solutions required to meet the needs of industries. Bulk storage of hydrogen involves the use of caverns, salt domes, and underground facilities, ensuring a stable and reliable supply for industrial processes.

    Moreover, advancements in methods, such as electrolysis powered by renewable energy sources, are driving the transition towards sustainable industrial applications. This trend not only reduces the carbon footprint of industrial processes but also enhances energy security while fostering economic growth and innovation. The versatility of hydrogen in industrial applications underscores its significance as a key component of the global energy transition and sustainable development.

    Renewable Energy Integration

    Stored hydrogen plays a crucial role in the integration of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, into the energy grid. By leveraging electrolysis processes, excess electricity generated from renewable sources can be used to produce hydrogen, which is then stored for later use or converted back to electricity through fuel cells. This concept of power-to-gas provides a viable solution for balancing the intermittent nature of renewable energy generation, enabling grid stability and flexibility. Countries like Denmark and Germany have been pioneering the implementation of power-to-gas technologies, leveraging hydrogen storage to support their renewable energy goals and achieve carbon neutrality.

    Furthermore, the utilization of stored hydrogen for energy storage and grid-balancing mechanisms contributes to building a more resilient and sustainable energy infrastructure. The ability to store surplus renewable energy as hydrogen enables the decoupling of generation and consumption, facilitating the seamless integration of clean energy sources into the existing energy landscape. As renewable energy penetration continues to grow, the role of hydrogen storage in enabling a reliable and efficient renewable energy ecosystem becomes increasingly prominent.

    Genius Gurus - Hydrogen
    Genius Gurus – Hydrogen

    At Genius Gurus, our dedicated team of professionals specializes in hydrogen technology, covering topics such as hydrogen production methods, storage solutions, fuel cells, and hydrogen-powered vehicles. We provide in-depth analysis and insights on the latest advancements, industry trends, and policy developments in the hydrogen sector. Our commitment to accuracy and strict editorial guidelines guarantees reliable content on the evolving landscape of hydrogen and renewable energy.

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