Promoted as a vital tool to slow climate change, hydrogen (H2) is set to decarbonize long-distance transportation, steel and other industries while utilities plan to blend it with fossil gas for electrical generation. Yet 96% of H2 is currently produced from fossil fuels – mostly gas – resulting in massive carbon pollution. Though industry counters with promises of capturing and storing that CO2 – so called “blue” H2, there’s been no peer-reviewed data available to refute their claims it’s clean. Until now. A new life cycle assessment published in the Journal Energy Science & Engineering by influential scientists Robert Howarth and Mark Z Jacobson finds that instead of being an improvement, blue H2 is at best a “distraction” away from genuinely green solutions. Lead blogger, podcaster and advisor to the Energy Transition, L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the study and its implications in the first of a series piercing through some of the hydrogen hype.
Hydrogen has emerged as a key element in the race to net-zero worldwide. South Korea is one of the most proactive advocates of hydrogen, passing the world’s first hydrogen economy law last year. In its carbon neutrality scenarios unveiled last month, meanwhile, hydrogen is given more weight than renewables. What is the Korean government doing to boost the hydrogen economy, and why? Yi hyun Kang investigates.
The race to become the world leader in hydrogen production has begun—and the Middle East is at the front of the pack. Hydrogen—and in particular—green hydrogen, is often portrayed as the “silver bullet” in decarbonization technology—able to decarbonize even the hardest-to-abate sectors. With some of the best renewable energy sources in the world (both solar and wind), many Middle Eastern countries seek to maintain their position as global energy giants by producing and exporting new energy vectors — namely, hydrogen and its derivatives. Yet Joelle Thomas found herself wondering whether these lofty hydrogen goals will be sustainable in a region with one significant resource constraint: water.
Scientists and politicians around the world agree that energy provision must be transformed from reliance on fossil fuels to renewables to combat global warming. But how can this happen while maintaining, or even improving, the international competitiveness of industrialized nations like Germany? Philip Emmerich and Dr. Manuel Baumann assess Germany’s status among leading OECD countries and China regarding energy transition technologies and patents.
Long recognized as an alternative to fossil fuels and once again heralded as an invaluable tool for tackling climate change, hydrogen is a key component within many of the recently announced national net-zero energy plans being rolled out by individual nations as well as the European Union. Hydrogen will likely be given a center role in new President Joe Biden’s climate plan too. To help sort out hope from hype, climate think tank, Carbon Brief recently published a detailed and invaluable hydrogen explainer. With comments from one of the analysts quoted in the explainer, L. Michael Buchsbaum helps untangle hydrogen’s reality.
To achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050, in early July the European Commission (EC) published their new Hydrogen strategy for a climate-neutral Europe. Though the promise of a future green hydrogen-based system is the main selling point, in reality the near-term hydrogen economy will be dependent on a nightmarish mix of fossil gas-derived “grey” hydrogen, later supplemented by “blue” hydrogen, itself dependent upon the proving out of non-functional carbon capture and sequestration technologies (CCS). Behind the scenes, the oil and gas industry and their allies are pushing for a “technology-neutral” hydrogen future, thus ensuring them a handsome stream of profits. Despite the green label, there is every reason to suspect that the coming hydrogen transition will be exponentially dirtier than expected. L. Michael Buchsbaum reminds us to be skeptical in Part II of a series on the promises and pitfalls of green hydrogen.
Heralded as the missing puzzle piece within a fully decarbonized economy, the European Commission has determined clean hydrogen is the 21st Century solution to arresting climate change. Published in July, their new Hydrogen Strategy is also a jobs plan and pathway towards unifying the EU around a holistic energy and economic policy. But despite being framed as a green energy program, there’s a growing realization that the transition will be dirtier than expected. For the short term at least, the plan rests heavily on using fossil gas as “a bridge fuel” once again. L. Michael Buchsbaum reports in the first of a series on the evolving hydrogen revolution.
Europe’s economy is well placed to benefit from the fledgling global hydrogen economy and should decisively follow through with its hydrogen strategies, says Veronika Grimm, a member of Germany’s council of economic experts, one of the country’s most important advisory committees. “We are in a very strong position in Germany and Europe when it comes to hydrogen and synthetic fuels, and we should keep that advantage,” Grimm told Clean Energy Wire. “It’s very important to create, on an ambitious timeline, the energy policy framework conditions that make hydrogen-related investments attractive for european companies,” said Grimm, who is also a member of Germany’s freshly launched hydrogen council dedicated to supervising the implementation of the country’s recent hydrogen strategy. In this interview, Grimm talks about her expectations for a global hydrogen economy, its implications for industries across the globe, and why she thinks the coronavirus crisis might speed up the transition rather than slowing it.