A new study has warned that a universal reliance on hydrogen-based fuels could hamper – rather than boost – the global climate effort, by distracting from the main game of renewable electrification and locking in longer-term fossil fuel dependency. The study from the Netherlands-based Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) says that while renewable hydrogen will play an important role in a low-carbon future, producing it remains too inefficient, costly and uncertain to broadly replace fossil fuels. The researchers argue that hydrogen-based fuels should be prioritised for use in applications for which they are “indispensable;” those that are tough to electrify, such as long-distance aviation, feedstocks in chemical production, steel production and some industrial processes.
Renew Economy 7th May 2021 read more »
Using hydrogen-based fuels for cars and home heating risks locking in a dependency on fossil fuels and failing to tackle the climate crisis, according to a new analysis. Fuels produced from hydrogen can be used as straight replacements for oil and gas and can be low-carbon, if renewable electricity is used to produce these “e-fuels”. However, the research found that using the electricity directly to power cars and warm houses was far more efficient. The analysis estimated that hydrogen-based fuels would be very expensive and scarce in the coming decade. Therefore, equipment such as “hydrogen-ready” boilers could end up reliant on fossil gas and continue to produce the carbon emissions driving global heating.
Guardian 6th May 2021 read more »
New research has poured cold water on the idea hydrogen should replace gas as a central heating fuel for millions of people across the UK. The gas industry and the Government are investing millions of pounds to see if the UK’s existing gas grid could be converted to run on hydrogen. That would save the British public from the disruption of having to rip out their boilers and retrofit their homes with heat pumps, the industry argues. But researchers from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research have warned hydrogen fuel is too inefficient and expensive to rely on for home heating, warning doing so would be a “risky” bet for countries targeting net zero emissions.
iNews 6th May 2021 read more »
Potential and risks of hydrogen-based e-fuels in climate change mitigation. E-fuels promise to replace fossil fuels with renewable electricity without the demand-side transformations required for a direct electrification. However, e-fuels’ versatility is counterbalanced by their fragile climate effectiveness, high costs and uncertain availability. E-fuel mitigation costs are €800–1,200 per tCO2. Large-scale deployment could reduce costs to €20–270 per tCO2 until 2050, yet it is unlikely that e-fuels will become cheap and abundant early enough. Neglecting demand-side transformations threatens to lock in a fossil-fuel dependency if e-fuels fall short of expectations. Sensible climate policy supports e-fuel deployment while hedging against the risk of their unavailability at large scale. Policies should be guided by a ‘merit order of end uses’ that prioritizes hydrogen and e-fuels for sectors that are inaccessible to direct electrification.
Nature Climate Change (accessed) 7th May 2021 read more »