Exciting Energy Future: ‘Green’ Hydrogen Primed & Ready to Explode Onto Wind & Solar Scene

Hydrogen gas is volatile, reactive and – when it goes up – it does so with an almighty bang.

Producing hydrogen gas using chaotically intermittent wind and solar is only the latest hoax being peddled by renewable energy rent seekers and other crony capitalists.

That class of characters will never be accused of having a solid grip on physics or the laws of thermodynamics. So, when they start talking about an exciting new energy future built around ‘green’ hydrogen, it will be exciting, all right.

Here are a couple of pieces explaining why hydrogen is all set to explode onto the renewable energy scene.

Britain Hypes the Green Hydrogen Economy
Watts Up With That?
Eric Worrall
17 August 2021

A few months ago, a colossal suspected hydrogen coolant leak explosion at a power plant in Australia, which caused blackouts up and down the East Coast, reminded us that hydrogen is not a gas to be toyed with. But nothing appears to be standing in the way of BoJo’s rush to push pressurised hydrogen gas into British vehicles and homes.

Green hydrogen ‘transitioning from a shed-based industry’ says researcher as the UK hedges its H2 strategy

Am I blue? Am I green? Government report isn’t quite transparent

The UK government has released its delayed hydrogen strategy which – in a strange move for a colourless gas – hedges its bets between green and blue.

The government claimed the UK-wide hydrogen economy could be worth £900m by 2030, potentially £13bn by 2050. In the next 10 years the universe’s most abundant element could decarbonise energy-intensive industries like chemicals, oil refineries, power and heavy transport by helping these sectors move away from fossil fuels, it claimed.

Light, energy-intensive and carbon-free “hydrogen-based” solutions could make up to 35 per cent of the UK’s energy consumption by 2050, helping the nation meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2050, according to the government paper.

But navigation from the current state of the hydrogen industry to that worthy destination might require some tricky manoeuvres. The vast majority of industrial hydrogen is extracted from natural gas [PDF] in a process that releases greenhouse gasses and requires energy, which often comes from carbon fuels.

In theory, the simplest way to overcome this problem is to use renewable electricity to extract hydrogen from water using electrolysis – so called green hydrogen. The problem is, although it works in the lab, the process has yet to be industrialised on a scale comparable with other fuels in the global energy supply chain. Green hydrogen received a fillip as researchers found methods to make electrolysis more efficient at lower capital costs.

An alternative is to continue to use natural gas as a source of hydrogen but to capture and store the methane and CO2 byproduct, and use renewable energy to power the process. But a recent study found making blue hydrogen was 20 per cent worse for the climate than just using fossil gas over its entire lifecycle.

Read more: https://www.theregister.com/2021/08/17/uk_government_hydrogen_strategy/

As a kid I used to play with hydrogen, used a cheap chemical reaction with ingredients most people have in their homes, to fill party balloons with hydrogen, and tie birthday cake candles or firecrackers to the balloons. A lot of the balloons exploded while we were filling them, if we forgot to squeeze the balloons before filling, or if the rubber didn’t form a good seal with the pipe, the gas swirling inside the balloon and mixing with a trace of air was enough to cause an impressive bang. One time we loaded 5 balloons tied together with so many crackers the balloons failed to ascend above head height – we all hit the deck face down real fast. The blast rattled the windows of my parent’s house, frightened my mum.

The thought of piping pressurised hydrogen into homes, or parking an automobile with tens of litres of compressed hydrogen in the gas tank in an enclosed space, or anywhere near a house, is total insanity. The fuel air blast from an entire leaky gas tank full of hydrogen would likely destroy the house, and smash the windows of all the neighbour’s houses, with obvious consequences for anyone in the vicinity.

Watts Up With That?

The Idiot’s Answer To Global Warming: Hydrogen
Manhattan Contrarian
Francis Menton
12 August 2021

Hydrogen! It’s the obvious and perfect answer to global warming caused by human CO2 emissions. Instead of burning hydrocarbons (fossil fuels) we can leave out the carbon part, burn just the hydrogen, and emit nothing but pure water vapor. H2 + O = H2O! Thus, no more CO2 emissions . Why didn’t anyone think of this before now?

Actually, the geniuses are way ahead of you on this one. President George W. Bush was touting the coming “hydrogen economy” as far back as 2003. (“In his 2003 State of the Union Address, President Bush launched his Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to work in partnership with the private sector to accelerate the research and development required for a hydrogen economy.”). Barack Obama was not one to get left behind on an issue like this. In the run-up to the Paris Climate Conference in 2015 Obama’s Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced, “[F]uel cell technologies [i.e., hydrogen-fueled motors] are paving the way to competitiveness in the global clean energy market and to new jobs and business creation across the country.” Then there’s the biggest hydrogen enthusiast of all, PM Boris Johnson of the UK, who promises that his country is at the dawn of the “hydrogen economy.” (“Towards the end of 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson released details of a 10-point plan for a so-called ‘green industrial revolution.’. . . This year will also see the government publish a Hydrogen Strategy that will “outline plans” to develop a hydrogen economy in the U.K.”)

And let us not forget California. If you look at my post from two days ago about California’s plans for “zero carbon” electricity, you will find a chart showing that by 2045 they plan to have some 40 GW of what they call “Zero Carbon Firm” resources. What does that mean? In the print below the chart, they reveal it: “hydrogen fuel cells.” (Their current amount of hydrogen fuel cells contributing to the grid is 0.)

So basically, hydrogen is the perfect answer to our problems, right? Wrong. Only an idiot could think that hydrogen offers any material useful contribution to the world’s energy supply.

For much of the information that follows, I’ll be relying on a June 6, 2020 Report written for the Global Warming Policy Foundation by John Constable. However, and not to downplay Mr. Constable’s excellent Report in any way, but I made many of the same points in one of the very first posts on this blog in November 2012, titled “The Hydrogen Economy.” That post was based mostly on my layman’s understanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Really, that’s all you need to know to realize that hydrogen as a major source of energy for the economy doesn’t make any sense at all.

So what is the fundamental flaw in the idea of a hydrogen-based energy economy? Constable puts it this way: “Being highly reactive, elemental hydrogen, H2, is found in only small quantities in nature on the earth’s surface but is present in a very wide range of compounds.” In other words, the hydrogen is not free for the taking, but rather is already combined with something else; and to separate the hydrogen so that you have free hydrogen to use, you need to add energy. Once you have added the energy and you have the free hydrogen, you can burn it. But that’s where the Second Law of Thermodynamics comes in. Due to inevitable inefficiencies in the processes, when you burn the hydrogen, you get back less energy than you expended to free it up. No matter how you approach the problem, the process of freeing up hydrogen and then burning it costs more energy than it generates.

Do you think somebody in our political leadership or bureaucracies might understand this? Don’t count on it.

Constable then goes into much more detail, and the deeper he gets into it the more ridiculous the hydrogen project looks. Since essentially all of the hydrogen starts out combined with something, where might you look to find a source of large quantities of hydrogen? Constable: “[T]he sources are few in number, being limited to either water, fossil hydrocarbons or biomass.”

The bond of hydrogen and oxygen in water is a high-energy thing that therefore takes a lot of energy to undo. So let’s consider getting the hydrogen from natural gas. Indeed, that is the main source today of substantial quantities of pure hydrogen for industrial purposes. Constable describes a well-established process called “steam methane reformation” (SMR) by which steam is passed through natural gas (methane, or CH4). The bond is broken and the hydrogen breaks free. Voila! Oh, but what happens to the carbon? Why obviously, it is released also, and thereupon combines with oxygen from the air forming CO2.

Wait a minute! The whole idea behind undertaking this expensive process was to avoid the release of the CO2. So clearly, we need another step. In the British proposal to create the “hydrogen economy,” they have had to include the addition of processes for “carbon capture and storage” to capture the CO2 before it gets away and prevent it getting into the atmosphere. Except that they haven’t figured out how to capture it all. They are hoping for capture rates of maybe 85 – 90%. So it turns out that this process, for all its additional costs, is not emissions-free at all.

And then there’s the next obvious question: Why not just burn the natural gas? Instead of having to input energy in the “steam reformation” process, this way you will release a large amount of useable and useful energy when the carbon gets burned. And as to CO2, you get the exact same amount. If you have a fetish that the CO2 must be captured, you can try to capture it from this process instead of from the “steam reformation” process. Again, you will not get 100%, but it’s really no different.

Except for the optics. In the first scenario, you claim you are burning “clean, pure hydrogen.” In the second scenario, you are burning natural gas, just as we have been doing for decades. Can people really be fooled by this? It seems like “smart” people like Bush, Obama and Johnson have all been fooled, so I guess there’s no reason not to expect most of the rest of the people to go along.
Manhattan Contrarian

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September 1, 2021 at 02:31AM

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