Energy is a troubling subject at the moment as the world grapples with constraints; we have an opportunity to lighten the conversation and answer some questions about hydrogen.
The are two questions about hydrogen that we are frequently asked:
Does it make sense to use green electricity to make green hydrogen?
In our view, the priority has to be to displace as much carbon as possible across the whole energy system. So if the grid can take it, let’s use the green electricity as electricity.
On average, over the last year, 42% of the UK’s electricity came from natural gas, with huge amounts of renewable energy wasted. Not all the renewable electricity can be channelled onto the grid. If the wind is blowing fiercely in Scotland, wind farms may be ‘constrained’, or told to hold back to avoid a traffic jam on the grid. The UK government reportedly paid out £500m+ in constraint payments to renewable energy generators in 2021.
The Grid posts live updates of the UK’s energy demand, updated every 5 minutes.
Though there are various projects looking at it, storing electricity at scale is difficult and there are complex balancing management systems to keep the energy flowing as required. You can store hydrogen. So rather than constraining the wind turbines, we can turn that energy into hydrogen. And then use it to accelerate decarbonisation.
We should also note that there are other green sources of hydrogen. Converting methane into hydrogen is 75% efficient while converting it into electricity is only 49% efficient. So there is less energy wasted in using bio methane to make hydrogen than electricity.
If we make green hydrogen, should it not be dedicated to the ‘hard to abate’ industrial sectors in the first instance?
Well, the ‘easy to abate’ sectors have to be decarbonised too and why not start with the low hanging fruit? Harvest that first and you can then reach further.
‘Easy to abate’ means easy commercially as well as technically, so more likely to happen, more rapidly, with less or no subsidy. Starting where it is easiest (e.g., road transport) also develops the technology and production capacity to bring down the cost for ‘hard to abate’ sectors, which are energy intensive and very cost sensitive. Cars, buses and vans can provide the demand and socialisation that producers are looking for to make their own investments viable. These are exciting times for riversimple as we develop our first production vehicles. If you are someone that doesn’t want to be tied down by charging times and short ranges then join our waiting list today.
Riversimple’s Purpose is “To pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport.”