The construction of power plants that initially burn natural gas and later transition to burning clean hydrogen is being pushed by European utilities. Nevertheless, the technology they rely on wastes energy and invites charges of “greenwashing.”
According to RWE AG, SSE Plc, and Equinor ASA, according to Bloomberg, the switch will be simple once green hydrogen is widely available and affordable. Germany, the largest energy consumer in Europe, is depending on clean fuels to produce 100% renewable energy by 2035 because the concept is so well-liked.
The ineffectiveness of hydrogen un these schemes is a significant barrier. There is roughly 70% less energy available when the petrol is created, stored, and burned to generate power once again, and the price has tripled. Also, it’s possible that there won’t be enough clean technology to create this hydrogen, leaving room for fossil fuels.
Governments are guiding their economy through the biggest energy crisis in decades by doubling down on low-carbon technology that help prevent catastrophic climate change and guaranteeing domestic supply. Hydrogen is frequently used to help people remove polluted sources.
According to BloombergNEF, public financing for the hydrogen industry would reach $146 billion globally by 2030. Top of the list with 28.6 billion is Germany. US dollars, while the UK has pledged 1.9 billion. dollars. The recently unveiled British renewable energy strategy established guidelines for defining “hydrogen ready,” but it did not include much additional cash.
In Germany, hydrogen power may be able to compete with gas in the 2030s. According to BloombergNEF, renewable energy sources will be less expensive while natural gas and CO2 prices will stay high.
Nevertheless, there is a major risk that these natural gas plants won’t switch to cleaner hydrogen rapidly enough and instead become barriers to climate goals, given the targets to remove grid emissions in a decade.
There is no obvious fallback strategy for lowering emissions while keeping the lights on if such modifications are not accomplished. At the same time, data indicate that Europe is falling short of its goals for expanding renewable energy sources, with spending on wind farms at a record low.
Governments have demonstrated during this crisis that they will take all necessary measures to preserve energy supplies. The market is open for natural gas in 2035, though, if energy plants are able to burn hydrogen but do not have access to enough of it.
Germany is putting up the infrastructure to import liquefied natural gas to feed the plants while also preparing tenders for another 25 GW of electricity capacity. The government predicts that ultimately these will run on hydrogen, which when burned simply produces water vapour.
Yet last year, when Russia stopped off gas exports after invading Ukraine, Germany shifted to coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. The biggest economy in Europe wants to postpone the 2030 deadline for shutting down all coal-fired power facilities.
The ability to store electricity generated by wind and solar farms for later use is green hydrogen’s key benefit. Hydrogen can be kept for months in storage, as opposed to batteries, which only work for a few hours. For instance, this would allow Spanish solar plants to produce fuel all summer long and export it to Germany for wintertime use.
By 2030, the UK intends to have 10 GW of low-carbon hydrogen capacity, at least half of which will come from renewable sources and the remainder from natural gas that has had its carbon sequestered. Industrial clients are anticipated to drive the initial demand.
In a project in the east of England that would be the first step towards a hydrogen future, SSE is collaborating with Equinor. Hydrogen and water are divided using a 35 MW electrolyte in the system. After that, the hydrogen is kept until it is needed by a small power plant in a salt cave underground.
The higher cost of hydrogen might eventually become comparable over time. When there is a lot of wind or sun, power will be less expensive when there is an abundance of renewable energy, making this an ideal time to create hydrogen.
It will probably be the most economical solution for long-term carbon-free storage in Europe. Europe lacks the option to burn natural gas directly like the US, which has access to abundant natural gas and can use carbon capture to produce low-carbon hydrogen.