Dr Richard Dixon director of Friends of the Earth Scotland – Governments like to hedge their bets so they don’t end up backing a loser, but that’s exactly where we might be heading with hydrogen. There are some cases where it might be sensible to use hydrogen as a fuel, as long as you make it by using renewable electricity to split water. What doesn’t make sense is imagining that we will be using hydrogen on a wide scale for transport or heating people’s homes. The ‘cheap’ way to make hydrogen is from gas. No wonder the oil industry is so enthusiastic about hydrogen. For a while there was a school of thought that electric vehicles were never going to be up to the job and petrol and diesel would need to be replaced with hydrogen. Then people thought we would need hydrogen for just the bigger vehicles. There are electric buses on the streets of three of our cities and there are hydrogen buses in (surprise, surprise) Aberdeen. There are electric double deckers on the streets of London today, but hydrogen double deckers ordered for Aberdeen may never appear because the bus maker has gone bust. Glasgow has just opted for hydrogen bin lorries but there are already electric bin lorries in London and Sheffield. Next year Elon Musk will sell you an HGV that can carry a 36-tonne load for 500 miles before it needs a charge, which only takes 30 minutes. Going for hydrogen in a big way would require massive investment in new infrastructure, require carbon capture and storage to become economically viable and always carries with it the risk that hydrogen is much more likely to explode than natural gas. The Government’s advisors say hydrogen could not be in widescale use until some-time in the 2030s. Why would anyone back hydrogen when electricity is winning the race hands down? Only because it throws a lifeline to the oil industry. Come on Government, we can only afford to back one horse, let’s make sure it is the electric one.
Scotsman 1st Oct 2019 read more »