Achilles’ heel of the ‘promised fuel’, hydrogen leaks

One of the great hopes for solving the energy crisis and lowering greenhouse gas emissions is green hydrogen. Hydrogen leaks, though, are a concern that some experts say could invalidate the product’s “green” designation. It can impact other elements when it leaks into the atmosphere, lowering the concentration of molecules that break down existing greenhouse gases and causing global warming.

China, the US, and Europe all have hydrogen as a strong bet. Both the US and the European Union have recently approved subsidies totaling €5.2 billion and billions of dollars in tax credits for green hydrogen projects, respectively. As part of its Medium and Long-Term Plan for the Development of the Hydrogen Energy Industry, China intends to manufacture up to 200,000 tons of green hydrogen by 2025. (2021-2035).

Green hydrogen is created using renewable energy, and when it is utilized as a fuel, it just releases water and no hazardous emissions. But in order for this to be the case, we must also make sure there are no leaks during its usage, manufacture, transit, or storage that end up in the atmosphere and cause global warming. Researchers have previously cautioned that the impacts of these leaks on the climate would be just as harmful as those of fossil fuels if volumes close to 10% reached the atmosphere.

Due to the fact that hydrogen molecules are lighter and smaller than methane molecules, they are also more difficult to confine, according to recent research. This damage is thought to be the result of this. When hydrogen enters the atmosphere, it influences other pollutants like methane, one of the main greenhouse gases, making it stay in the atmosphere longer and having a greater effect on the climate.

There have been no data leaks to date

According to Reuters, approximately 1% of the natural gas in circulation in Europe leaks, a figure that is greater in other nations like Russia. There are no such leak controls or conclusive information regarding hydrogen leakage.

The initial tests, carried out by researchers at DNV’s research facility in Spadeadam, northern England, reveal that hydrogen leaks happen similarly to gas leaks. The distinction is that because hydrogen is more corrosive than oxygen, it has the potential to weaken and shatter pipes when it enters them. It can also be riskier because it is more combustible than natural gas.

“We need much better data. Better leak detection tools and laws that really require leak detection are required, “According to Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a researcher at the Center for Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and author of a report on the effects of leaks. Leaks could reach up to 5.6 percent in 2050, when hydrogen use is more common, based on these and other projections.

A study on the effects of hydrogen emissions is also being conducted by the Norwegian Climate Research Institute and is scheduled to be finished in June 2024. Maria Sand, who is in charge of the research ensuring that there is a significant scientific gap, adds, “We have to be aware of leaks, and we need solutions. “Hydrogen has immense promise, but before we make the major transition, we need to learn more.”

One of the great hopes for solving the energy crisis and lowering greenhouse gas emissions is green hydrogen. Leaks, though, are a concern that some experts say could invalidate the product’s “green” designation. And the reason for this is that when it escapes into the atmosphere, it can have an impact on other elements, lowering the concentration of molecules that break down existing greenhouse gases and causing global warming.