Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. It hardly occurs in nature in separate form, because it easily reacts with other elements into more stable substances such as water.

In recent years, hydrogen has been investigated as an energy carrier which could store energy. It is important to note that hydrogen is thus not an energy source, comparable with renewables or fossil fuels, but rather comparable to batteries and other storage technologies in its role in an energy system.

Despite the hype over the past decade, hydrogen has many drawbacks as an energy carrier. It has also been described as part of a greenwashing GreenwashingA marketing trick corporations and governments resort to in order to convince others that they are environmentally responsible or that…Read on اقرأ المزيد campaign aimed at preserving the fossil fuel Fossil FuelRefers to energy materials extracted from the earth and used for burning. The three main fossil fuels are oil, fossil…Read on اقرأ المزيد status quo.

Types of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is usually separated from methane or water. Different ways of producing hydrogen are often referred to by various colors. The most commonly discussed types are:

Green hydrogen
  • Produced with energy from renewable sources like solar and wind.
  • Presented as the best solution for the environment, but only accounts for less than 1% of hydrogen produced worldwide.
  • Too expensive for mass production. That is why it has been dubbed “the champagne of the energy transition”– rare and expensive.
Blue hydrogen
  • Described as a ‘cleaner’ form of hydrogen. It is produced from fossil gas using the same process as gray hydrogen (see below), but the CO2 emissions Carbon Dioxide (CO2) EmissionsCarbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas found naturally in Earth’s atmosphere. It is also a byproduct of industrial processes…Read on اقرأ المزيد  would be disposed of using carbon capture and storage (CCS) Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)CCS was first commercialized in the 1970s, but it was called “enhanced oil recovery” because oil corporations pumped the captured…Read on اقرأ المزيد technologies. A similar approach had previously been promoted by the coal industry as “clean coal”, which turned out to be a myth.
  • Generates higher GHG emissions than gas, coal, or diesel oil. This prompted environmental scientists to call blue hydrogen a “dead end” and a “smokescreen for more air pollution”.
Gray hydrogen
  • Produced with fossil gas. It is the most common type of hydrogen, representing 95% of hydrogen produced around the world today.
  • Generates high levels of emissions. Production of 1 kg of gray hydrogen emits up to 13.7 kgs of CO2

Other types of hydrogen are occasionally discussed, such as pink hydrogen (generated by nuclear energy), yellow hydrogen (generated by solar power), and white hydrogen (naturally occurring hydrogen extracted from geological deposits).

Drawbacks of Hydrogen

In spite of the hype, hydrogen is unlikely to become a major factor in global action against the climate crisis Climate CrisisThe current moment where we are observing increasingly severe climate impacts and running the risk of catastrophic, irreversible changes in…Read on اقرأ المزيد . Its drawbacks can be summed up as follows:

  • Hydrogen is an unsafe substance. It is highly susceptible to spontaneous combustion and its fires are invisible, making accidents likelier and harder to deal with than other energy carriers.
  • Transportation of hydrogen is challenging. It erodes metal pipes and valves (a process called hydrogen embrittlement). Hydrogen can be stored and transported as ammonia, but this poses the risk of causing toxic clouds in the case of leakages.
  • It is not an efficient energy carrier. When hydrogen is converted into electricity inside fuel cells, up to 50% of that energy is lost.
  • Its production from fossil fuels leads to high levels of emissions. Current hydrogen production emits 1100-1200 MtCO2 On the other hand, low-emission hydrogen remains negligible, amounting to less than 1% of global hydrogen production in 2022.

When discussing hydrogen, the fossil fuel industry implements a bait and switch scheme. They promote blue hydrogen while claiming that they will move to the cleaner green hydrogen at some unspecified date in the future. This guarantees a continuation of fossil gas burning, with fossil lock-in Fossil Lock-InWhen big investments, for example in infrastructures such as power plants or pipelines, create dependencies that result in difficulties to…Read on اقرأ المزيد effects due to investing large amounts of money into building infrastructure for this purpose. It is unsurprising that a large number of hydrogen projects have been discovered to be mostly rebranded fossil fuel projects.

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