Hydrogen lobbyist quits, slams oil firms’ “false claims” about blue hydrogen

Hydrogen lobbyist quits, slams oil firms’ “false claims” about blue hydrogen

A hydrogen filling station.

Peter Gercke/image alliance by way of Getty Pictures

The pinnacle of a hydrogen lobbying group has stepped down amid issues that blue hydrogen constructed from pure gasoline would function a “lock-in” for fossil fuels.

Oil and gasoline firms in recent times have been touting the purported benefits of hydrogen constructed from pure gasoline. Supporters admit that blue hydrogen will not be zero carbon, however they argue that its use would assist construct demand and infrastructure whereas prices for inexperienced hydrogen, which is constructed from renewable energy, are introduced down. 

At challenge, although, is whether or not blue hydrogen is really low carbon, as its boosters recommend. Based on a latest research, blue hydrogen could also be worse for the local weather than coal. The low-carbon claims about blue hydrogen hinge on the truth that carbon dioxide must be captured at each step, from the steam reformation course of that makes the gasoline from methane to the pure gasoline turbines that present warmth and energy for the reactions. Not each step is ideal, and between 10–40 p.c of the carbon dioxide can evade seize relying on the system.

However the place blue hydrogen actually suffered within the evaluation was when leaky pure gasoline infrastructure was included within the calculations. Methane, the first part of pure gasoline, is a potent greenhouse gasoline that warms the planet 83 instances greater than an equal quantity of carbon dioxide. Gasoline pipelines are notoriously leaky in locations, and from manufacturing to consumption, anyplace between 1.5–4.3 p.c slips by means of the cracks. On the low finish of that vary, blue hydrogen was nonetheless worse than burning pure gasoline due to the extra methane use all through the method. As assumptions about leakage charges rose above 3.5 p.c, blue hydrogen’s local weather influence grew to become worse than coal.

Final straw

That research was apparently a tipping level for Chris Jackson, who this week stepped down as chair of the UK Hydrogen and Gas Cell Affiliation. Jackson, who based a inexperienced hydrogen firm two years in the past, was head of the trade group for somewhat over a 12 months. 

“The vitality transition can’t be achieved by one silver bullet, and inexperienced hydrogen alone can’t resolve all of the worlds challenges,” he wrote in a LinkedIn put up saying his resignation. “However whereas there may not be a single ‘proper’ reply, there are solutions which can be incorrect.”

Jackson continues by saying that blue hydrogen is “at finest an costly distraction, and at worst a lock-in for continued fossil gas use” which might derail targets that the nation and the world have set for decarbonizing the financial system. He takes specific challenge with the truth that oil and gasoline firms have requested the UK authorities for many years of subsidies whereas additionally claiming that blue hydrogen will likely be cheap to provide. “If the false claims made by oil firms about the price of blue hydrogen have been true, their tasks would make a revenue by 2030,” he advised The Guardian.

“As an alternative, they’re asking taxpayers for billions in subsidies for the following 25 years. They need to inform the federal government they don’t want it. The truth that they don’t tells you every little thing you should know.”

Blue hydrogen hand-outs

The UK authorities has endorsed hydrogen in its plans to decarbonize the British financial system, saying the gas may cut back the local weather influence of heavy trade and long-haul transportation. The lately introduced plan requires blue hydrogen to bridge hole till inexperienced hydrogen is commercially viable.

Within the US, the Biden administration seems to embrace blue hydrogen, too. In its infrastructure plan introduced in March, the White Home referred to as for “funding in 15 decarbonized hydrogen demonstration tasks,” which would seem to go away the door open for blue hydrogen. The infrastructure invoice at the moment working its manner by means of Congress requires the creation of 4 hydrogen hubs, together with one that may show the manufacturing of “clear hydrogen” from fossil fuels. Within the Senate model of the invoice, “clear hydrogen” implies that for each kilogram of hydrogen produced, two kilograms of carbon dioxide may end up. Ideally, most of it’s captured and saved, however the invoice doesn’t require a certain quantity, and it solely addresses methane leaks from orphaned wells.

The US hydrogen lobbying group, the Gas Cell and Hydrogen Vitality Affiliation, additionally helps each blue and inexperienced hydrogen, collectively calling them “low-carbon hydrogen” in a latest report. Ars has reached out to the group to ask if they’ve a stance on blue hydrogen, particularly. We’ll replace this text if we hear from them.

Within the UK, such hubs are already forming, with each Equinor and BP saying blue hydrogen vegetation which, collectively, would symbolize almost half of the federal government’s focused 5 GW of “low-carbon” hydrogen capability.

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