Hydrogen: UK government sees future in low-carbon fuel, but what’s the reality?


[image credit: latinoamericarenovable.com]

HMG pays another visit to climate cloud cuckoo land. Its hydrogen ‘strategy’ turns out to be as full of obvious holes as a string vest. Don’t even ask about safety issues.
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The UK’s long-awaited hydrogen strategy has set out the government’s plans for “a world-leading hydrogen economy” that it says would generate £900 million (US$1.2 million) and create over 9,000 jobs by 2030, “potentially rising to 100,000 jobs and £13 billion by 2050”. From: The Conversation (via Phys.org).

The strategy document argues that hydrogen could be used in place of fossil fuels in homes and industries which are currently responsible for significant CO2 emissions, such as chemical manufacturing and heavy transport, which includes the delivery of goods by shipping, lorries and trains.

The government also envisages that many of the new jobs producing and using “low-carbon hydrogen” will benefit “UK companies and workers across our industrial heartlands.”

On the face of it, this vision of a low-carbon future in some of the most difficult to decarbonise niches of the economy sounds like good news. But is it? And are there other options for delivering net zero that will be better for the public?

Let’s examine some of the claims.

A heated debate

The government prefers what it calls “a twin track approach”, meaning both blue and green hydrogen will be used to phase out fossil fuels. Blue hydrogen fuel is produced from natural gas—a fossil fuel which currently provides most of the UK’s water and space heating—but the CO2 that would usually be emitted is captured and stored underground.

A recent report cast doubt on the green credentials of blue hydrogen, though. The research suggested that, because of methane emissions throughout the supply chain, blue hydrogen may actually be 20% worse for the climate than simply burning natural gas for heat and power. It doesn’t appear that the government’s strategy has recognised these issues or explained how they might be avoided.

Green hydrogen meanwhile is produced by splitting water molecules using electricity. A lot of energy is lost in this process, and so on average, the cost of hydrogen per kilowatt-hour (kWh) will be greater than the electricity it is derived from.

Is green hydrogen a better option for UK households than electrifying the heating system with heat pumps in homes? Green hydrogen bills are likely to be three to five times higher than this alternative. That’s because heat pumps take 1 kWh of electricity and convert it to around 3 kWh of heat, whereas green hydrogen takes 1 kWh of electricity and converts it to around 0.6 kWh of heat.

The strategy also proposes blending natural gas supplies to home central heating systems with 20% blue or green hydrogen. This, it’s reported, will help reduce CO₂ emissions from heating by 7%. No bad thing, but are there better ways to use that blue or green hydrogen?

Continued here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop


August 18, 2021 at 01:21PM

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