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A Hydrogen Future? Some Basic Facts

July 5, 2020
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By Paul Homewood

 

 See the source image

 

There has been a wide ranging debate about hydrogen in the last couple of days, so I thought it worthwhile to recap some of the basic facts. Most of these are from the Committee on Climate Change’s Net Zero report last year, otherwise I will provide links.

I have referred to many of these facts before, but they sometimes get lost in the fog of technical debate. If anybody disagrees with these facts, please explain where the CCC went wrong.

Production

There are essentially two methods of producing hydrogen:

1) Steam reforming

This process typically usually uses natural gas as the feedstock, but produces CO2 as a by-product. Therefore, for the process to be “low carbon”, carbon capture and storage would be necessary. Unfortunately even then not all of the CO2 is captured. Allowing for upstream emissions as well, the CCC estimate that the process will only reduce emissions by 60 to 85%, compared to burning natural gas instead.

The cost of producing hydrogen via steam reforming with CCS is estimated to be triple the current wholesale price of natural gas (ie before adding distribution costs).

2) Electrolysis

The CCC explain why electrolysis can only offer a limited contribution:

image

According to IEA figures, the cost of production via electrolysis is about three times as much as steam reforming, in other words nine times that of natural gas.

 

Hydrogen for heating

The CCC estimate that the cost of decarbonising heating in buildings will be £28bn a year. They have considered three scenarios:

1) Full electrification – (mainly heat pumps)

2) Fully hydrogen

3) Hybrid hydrogen – which mixes heat pump and hydrogen heating applications.

They say that there is little difference in costs between all three scenarios. However their favoured option is hybrid because:

1) Heat pumps cannot meet peak demand in winter

2) A full hydrogen pathway would lock in high emissions, while electrolysis would be too expensive and entail extremely challenging build rates for electricity generation capacity.

image

 

The annual cost of £28bn does not include the costs of seasonal storage, which they estimate could add another £6bn a year.

Rather deviously, the CCC also base their costs on the assumption that insulation and other efficiency measures reduce energy consumption for heating by 30%. However, the above costs do not factor in the extra costs of such measures. A failure to achieve such savings would, in their own words, imply higher costs for a decarbonised heating system.

Finally, the national switchover to hydrogen use in buildings would cost between £50bn and £100bn in upfront costs, excluding network costs.

Transport

There seems to be little prospect of a switch to hydrogen cars in the foreseeable future. Although running costs appear to be similar to petrol cars, the costs of purchase are prohibitive, something like double the price of a conventional car. According to BMW, a fuel-cell powertrain is currently still around 10 times more expensive than an equivalent electric one.

The lack of any proper refuelling infrastructure is obviously another insurmountable obstacle. This is obviously a chicken and egg situation – nobody will buy a hydrogen car if they cannot easily refuel, but nobody will build such refuelling stations if there is no demand.

On a more fundamental level, the huge investment being made in EV and battery technology is likely to dwarf investment in hydrogen cars. For instance, there is no logic in spending billions of public money in charging points, upgrading electricity networks etc, if we are going to be driving hydrogen cars instead.

Hydrogen cars at the moment appear to be the betamaxes of the car world.

Little wonder than that Mercedes has already pulled the plug on development of hydrogen cars. Car manufacturers simply cannot afford to spend billions developing both electric and hydrogen technology at the same time.

 

That of course leaves heavy transport, such as lorries, buses and coaches, where hydrogen could be of some use. However HGVs and buses only account for 5% of emissions,  so certainly would not warrant any major expansion of hydrogen production capacity or radical changes in the energy infrastructure.

The CCC reckon that switching HGVs to hydrogen would add about £3bn a year to costs of transport, although this is cheaper than the electric option.

As we have known for a long time, the cost of decarbonising the UK economy will be crippling. There is no evidence that large scale use of hydrogen will change that fact.

 

References

Further information is available here:

 https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2019/08/26/is-hydrogen-a-solution/

https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/decarbonising-heating-will-cost-us-28bn-a-year/

https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/net-zero-technical-report/

52 Comments
  1. Joe Public permalink
    July 5, 2020 1:48 pm

    “Production

    1) Steam reforming
    The cost of producing hydrogen via steam reforming with CCS is estimated to be triple the current wholesale price of natural gas (ie before adding distribution costs).”

    Distribution costs will be approx 10% -30% greater for hydrogen than for natural gas if only because:

    “Energy delivery and energy storage capacity of the network

    The energy carrying capacity of hydrogen is about 20–30% less for a pipeline of the same pipe diameter and pressure drop than for natural gas despite the much lower volumetric energy density of hydrogen being offset by a much higher flow rate. This means that the hydrogen energy transmission capacity at an unchanged pressure is approximately 20% lower than the UK annual average calorific value of 39.5 MJ/m3 for natural gas”

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360319913006800

  2. Broadlands permalink
    July 5, 2020 2:03 pm

    If the overriding concern is to lower the CO2 in the atmosphere to achieve the Net-zero goal none of this will help.

    • Mack permalink
      July 5, 2020 10:31 pm

      Broadlands, you hit the nail on the head.

      Irrespective of whatever the ‘overiding concern’ of the green bob is, you are completely correct: ‘none of this will help’!

      Hydrogen, windmills, solar, biomass – they are all useless for sustaining a modern industrial economy and none of them are environmentally ‘friendly’. The bottom line is, the so called ‘settled science’ of climate alarmism is just a front for sending Western Civilization back to the Stone Age. Sagely, our ‘friends’ in the East aren’t listening and are just drooling at the prospect of picking through the last remaining shreds of meat between the bones once our idiotic leaders completely hamstring our way of life for generations to come.

  3. July 5, 2020 2:23 pm

    Small point I know but am still waiting for the statistically significant empirical data, supported by the laws of physics AND geological history to say that what is occurring now is NOT perfectly natural and we should sit back and enjoy the ride. Which ever way you look at the marxist twisted “science” the laws of physics and geological history have to be contradicted to do what is being claimed. The laws of Thermodynamics are trashed by claiming that storms get worse when by putting more heat energy into a system where the minumum and maximum temperature range is so great. The reality is that the differential between hottest and coldest temperatures is reduced therefore providing less energy for storm creation and that is what the data shows. Regarding the assertion about greenhouse gasses, the unique electromagnetic signature of CO2 has a trivial signature in the ultra low infra red. This signature is totally swamped by the signature of Water Vapour, the most common gas in the claimed process! Competent physics puts the greenhouse gas at a maximum around 5% of the total heat flux. Where is the heat coming from? Well my money is on the big shiny yellow thing in the sky. Add in an eccentric orbit around the sun, sun spots and varying amounts of water vapour in the atmosphere and there in general is your temperature. The ironies of ironies is that producing water vapour, the main greenhouse gas into the atmosphere now becomes a good thing! Geological history confirms these observations and also refutes the assertion that atmospheric CO2 level and temperature are linked. There is no correlation whatsoever on a geological time scale between the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and Earth temperature.
    Over geological time the average atmospheric CO2 level is 2500ppm. When the angiosperms we eat evolved the level was 2500-2800ppm. Each year we get record food production but where is this in the news? Isn’t that something to celebrate? What we have had are failed attempts with very shaky experiments to twist reality to say more food production has less value. But this only tells part of the story. CO2 exists in three not two mediums. Rock Water and air. That the climate fraudsters propaganda arm ignore the criticality of the CO2 locked up in rocks is nothing more than wilful criminality as they lobby always for more and more money for unscrupulous businessmen to gorge themselves on this unsustainable public funded deception. I never did figure out why the Climate Fraudsters ignore geological history and prefer to forward model constantly wrong models until I realised that actually understanding the issue is absolutely what they do not want to do, preferring to blame man with a series of unsubstantiated assertions twisted around badly executed science, the product of which the usual suspects promote in the most shameful and biased manner.

    • Ariane permalink
      July 5, 2020 4:29 pm

      The science has always been a red herring,. What the ‘Climate Fraudsters’ want has always been to deindustrialise and impoverish – which is done by reducing carbon dioxide emissions from our production, transport and domestic sectors.

      • johnbillscott permalink
        July 5, 2020 5:58 pm

        Go back to the 1992 Rio Conference on the Environment – this is where the ball started rolling – de-industrialize the west – re-distribute wealth – UN World Government – all on the back of the CO2 hoax.

        A quote from Maurice Strong–‘Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized nations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?’ How better to accomplish the collapse then to create mass hysteria proselytized by the willing dupes in our education system that CO2 is going to destroy the world because allegedly it will cause the temperature to go up 3*C.

      • Ariane permalink
        July 5, 2020 7:55 pm

        Go back even further to the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth and remember the IPCC’s Ben Santer’s first computer model in 1996 specially designed to show a ‘human fingerprint’ causing global atmospheric warming. Climate Fraud based on extreme Right wing attitudes dressed up to look like socialism and saving the planet. This is the biggest fraud ever and it will take more than an examination of renewables to correct.

      • Robin Guenier permalink
        July 5, 2020 8:22 pm

        You may be interested to read this: http://ccgi.newbery1.plus.com/blog/the-west-vs-the-rest/.

      • John Cullen permalink
        July 14, 2020 6:46 pm

        Ariane,

        You wrote, “Climate Fraud based on extreme Right wing attitudes dressed up to look like socialism and saving the planet.” I believe that with this sentence you have summarised the current situation most succinctly.

        It is unfortunate that the centre and the left of politics have not examined the ‘green’ offering closely enough to see that they, along with the rest of us, are being taken for a ride. Things can only get bumpier!

        Regards,
        John.

      • Ariane permalink
        July 15, 2020 8:36 am

        John, it is an awful prospect that, as you say, things can only get bumpier, but you are probably correct. Let us hope the costs, common sense and the hard work of people like Paul Homewood, will help smooth outcomes. The UK needs a political party to campaign on this one issue (like the Brexit Party did to leave th EU) with funds and a brilliant leader who knows the facts and can have an impact on the dross around us.

    • Ben Dussan permalink
      July 5, 2020 5:04 pm

      Well said. I would add that:
      1- What would be the net effect on the thermal balance/imbalance of the biosphere as atmospheric water vapor increases on account of the “predicted” temperature increase (aka more water evaporation from oceans, lakes and rivers): water vapor acts as green house gas, AND it also reflects incoming solar radiation.
      2- Not a word is said as to storage of H2: compressed, liquified? both inherently dangerous, or perhaps using metal hydrides (which apparently can store more H2 per unit volume than either of the first two…..

  4. Ray Sanders permalink
    July 5, 2020 2:38 pm

    Firstly let us consider “water splitting” into its components parts of hydrogen and oxygen rather than narrowing down to the unspecific term of “electrolysis” of which there are many different types. The process of water splitting requires energy input that does not specifically have to be entirely in the form of electricity. It part of the energy input is in the form of heat then less electricity is required. It is even possible to run the process entirely by heat alone known as thermolysis (thermal decomposition.)
    Suggesting that “surplus” electricity from wind farms. solar, tidal or any other fanciful intermittent renewable is completely farcical. Large scale industrial processes must have maximum utilisation factors to be economical and occasional use of a surplus is just plain daft.
    If, however, you have a continuous supply of cheap ( or even negatively priced) waste heat as part of the process as well as low marginal cost electricity then the economics completely changes.
    I have posted this before but here goes again – take, for example, the Sizewell B SNUPPS PWR. It produces 3600MW gross thermal energy to supply 1200MW gross electricity generation.
    So what happens to the 2400MW of energy difference? The vast majority of it is thrown away at significant operating and maintenance cost (pumps, filters, fish screens etc) into the North Sea.
    There are a number of uses for this waste heat but none happen to be available around Sizewell as in common with other existing NPP it is rather remote.
    Options for this wastes energy include part of the energy input for High Temperature Electrolysis (HTE) and also almost all the total energy requirement for Direct Atmospheric Capture (DAC) of CO2. It is therefore possible to supply both H2 and CO2 as feedstocks for onsite production of either Methanol (CH3OH) or going further into the Fischer-Tropsch process for synthetic complex hydrocarbon production such as Kerosene for jet fuel.
    Why would you bother? Well there genuinely are real pollutants form combustion of fossil hydrocarbons which do not result from the extremely pure synthetic fuels. There is is no sulphur so no SOX, NOX production is negligible and very importantly no PM2.5 particulates.
    Injecting these pollutants into the high atmosphere is not a good idea regardless of CO2 considerations.
    So H2 production as a precursor to synthetic “Efuels” for specific situations where other energy options are not available i.e. aviation is not such a bad idea nor is it likely to be especially uneconomic.
    Obviously the CCC is only interested in promoting a very small range of intermittent renewables rather than the nuclear based options. I would also say they seem blissfully ignorant of genuine renewable options such as Inter Seasonal Thermal Energy Storage systems running on either sensible heat, latent heat (phase change materials PCMs) or Thermo Chemical storage but that’s a completely separate issue. . .

    • Curious George permalink
      July 5, 2020 6:39 pm

      “Options for this waste energy include part of the energy input for High Temperature Electrolysis (HTE) and also almost all the total energy requirement for Direct Atmospheric Capture (DAC) of CO2.” Please revolutionize thermodynamics by all means.

      • Ray Sandera permalink
        July 6, 2020 8:23 am

        Will you please explain to me exactly what you think is wrong with my thermodynamics rather than attempt to make silly sarcastic remarks.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        July 6, 2020 8:39 am

        “Please revolutionize thermodynamics by all means”
        Could you please explain what on earth you think you mean by that remark. .
        If you feel that I do not know what I am talking about you should also feel very worried. You see they allow what you seem to feel are obviously incompetent and unqualified people like me actually work on nuclear power plants. Scary eh?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 5, 2020 9:42 pm

      What you have to show is that low grade heat can be captured at economic cost, and that your scheme is the best use of it. Bear in mind that fuel cost for a nuclear plant is trivial in its overall costs (call it $5/MWh to beat), which are dominated by financing the cost of construction and providing for its aftercare.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        July 6, 2020 8:26 am

        As you know from responding to a previous post of mine, waste heat at over 100C is already supplied to a district heating system in Switzerland at very low cost. That already demonstrates the economics.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 6, 2020 1:03 pm

        As you know, I showed that the quantity of useful heat supply was just over 2% of the plant’s electrical output, which I described as underwhelming. It is not the solution you ptetend it is.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        July 6, 2020 8:06 pm

        “It doesn’t add up…” mathematics is clearly not your strong point despite your laughable name is it? Your previous bizarre calculation was based on electrical output and clearly you had zero understanding of the points I am making. I am referring to the waste heat which has sweet FA to do with the electrical output. You are not an engineer of any form are you…I am.

  5. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    July 5, 2020 3:15 pm

    Some years ago there was an article in a magazine (Scientific American, I think) about the future of cars “according to General Motors.” A fuel cell platform was envisioned that would be the propulsion or power train of different series of vehicles. (It has been awhile, so don’t quote me.)
    There is a Wikipedia entry for ‘ GM HydroGen4 ‘ that explains this as a hybrid design. I don’t recall that in the article, but if it was there, it was not the big news of the time.
    [ An aside: We live near and get electricity from large dams on the Columbia River in Washington State. Hydro means water to me.]
    In the Wikipedia entry there is a ‘See also’ link to a “List of fuel cell vehicles” that is worth looking at. My take is there has been a lot of money poured down this sink hole.

    There are much better alternatives for spending a nation’s wealth.
    Officials should read up on “Opportunity Cost.”

  6. Colin Megson permalink
    July 5, 2020 4:03 pm

    Wow! Managing to pick out Mercedes to support an opinion, while ignoring early June announcements of €9 billion going into Germany’s green hydrogen plans and €30 billion going into an EU-wide green hydrogen plan. Scraping the bottom of the barrel comes to mind.

    What’s not appreciated is the whole of the intermittents industries and lobbyists (backed by big-oil) needs green hydrogen to get low-carbon intermittents to despatchable 24/7/365 status – and it really can. But,to accommodate diurnal and seasonal ‘intermittency’ it needs humongous volumes of hydrogen storage (salt caverns in the UK) and a P2G2P infrastructure (the green-hydrogen-powered mirror image of the natural gas backup they have to rely on now – but low carbon)

    But its the longest and most complex suicide plan in history, because in 2030, Small Modular Reactor (SMR) build-outs, from at least 3 companies, will be underway and then the dream scenario can be realised. SMRs running at 100% availability supplying 24/7/365 low-carbon electricity (without any form of backup) and load following by switching to electrolyser plants for the production of green hydrogen.

    Electrolyser plant manufacturers are ‘selling’ the ability of their products to work with varying loads; so well they can rule out any other form of backup – conventional/pumped hydro, gas peakers, etc.. So the high cost nuclear plants run at full power for all of their available time and the lower cost electrolyser plants do all of the electricity and hydrogen-‘fuel’ load following, diurnally and seasonally.

    The dream combination to get to the UK’s mandated zero-carbon by 2050, at the lowest possible cost and with a microscopic environmental impact. And without doubt, the capital investment will be significant, but at about 1/5th of the cost of the intermittents-way the CCC is recommending.

    PS: hydrogen for heating died yesterday, when Centrica announced nothing of significance could be gas-networked for over a decade and advised the Government to start rolling out a heat pump agenda now.

    • July 5, 2020 4:39 pm

      Mercedes have taken a business decision. Germany is spending taxpayers money on a political one.

      But I can’t wait for these super cheap SMRs!

      Btw – you do raise a very serious point. There could be all sorts of new technologies around the corner. But we should wait for them to come to fruition before ditching what we already have. Wasting billions on wind farms is a case in point

      • Colin Megson permalink
        July 5, 2020 6:04 pm

        Political decisions are the ones that count; the ones that rule our lives. Like the UK mandating a zero-carbon target by 2050.

        We all know it’s effectiveness will be zero, but the Government have picked all of the intermittents winners which, the lobbyists behind intermittents tell us, are getting cheaper by the day.

        Paradoxically, our electricity bills get more expensive by the day, and nobody knows better than you why that is so.

        Your posts are so popular, it would do super-cheap SMRs no harm if you started to push them a bit. Capital investment needed for 3,200 MW, using GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300, would be £6.26 billion, compared to HPC’s £22.5 billion and Sizewell C’s £20 billion.

        There’s a facebook Group page for the BWRX-300 and a Blogspot.

      • Colin Megson permalink
        July 6, 2020 5:08 pm

        I don’t have an obsession with hydrogen, but the CCC and others do, as a way to reach the mandated zero-carbon by 2050 target.

        Intermittent technologies and their lobbyists and NGOs have an obsession with green hydrogen. I just keep seeing the juggernaut rolling on and picking up speed every day – and I just report it.

        Green hydrogen can genuinely turn intermittents into dispatchable power – what’s not to like? Except the horrendous cost and environmental desecration that will ensue.

        You don’t seem to accept that the major advanced, industrialised nations all have skin in the game of zero carbon by 2050. There’s nothing you can do even on your hugely influential blog that will change that. My amateur efforts on facebook and the blogosphere steer clear of fighting that battle, which is lost – just accept it.

        I put the time I have available into pursuing advanced nuclear as the low carbon source of power and, hopefully, obliterate intermittents as a commercial option. I would urge you to do the same – use your time for a far better nuclear-future for future generations of your extended family.

        This is yesterday’s news – Thyssenkrupp – you’d better believe it:

        http://www.airproducts.com/Company/news-center/2020/07/0705-air-products-and-thyssenkrupp-agreement-for-electrolysis-plants-to-generate-green-hydrogen.aspx

      • July 6, 2020 7:23 pm

        You seriously weaken your case for SMRs by introducing the hydrogen argument.

        If SMRs can produce reliably and at, say, £50/MWh then that should be the way forward

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 5, 2020 9:33 pm

      The Cheshire salt caverns would store about 4.4TWh of hydrogen. That is one cold day’s gas demand. Better used to store 3 days of methane supply. One LNG ship is about 1.5 TWh. Calculations I’ve done with 30 years of wind and solar data from Staffell & Pfenniger suggest that with a 75% efficient round trip storage medium (i.e. pumped storage) you would need over 30TWh of storage to balance a wind and solar system and that’s with no safety margin. Other estimates run to double that. Use hydrogen, and the round trip efficiency is going to fall markedly (you have to convert hydrogen back to electricity as well as making the hydrogen inefficiently and suffering losses in the storage phase) which means lots more wasted generation capacity.

      I’ve yet to see anything on what power from SMR might cost – and I recognise that it is a function of cost imposed by regulation, but getting nuclear regulation softened is probably far less likely than abandoning zero carbon. RR originally said they would struggle to compete with Hinkley Point, where the CFD is now worth £101.66/MWh, and I’ve not seen them claim to have improved on that. Anyone with references to better claims, please post. So if you are going to use power at £100/MWh you are looking at £400/MWh for the power made via a hydrogen route. It is cheaper to throw surplus renewable power away and run a backup form of generation when you need it.

      http://euanmearns.com/renewable-energy-storage-and-power-to-methane/

      • Colin Megson permalink
        July 6, 2020 12:34 am

        Irrespective of what the hydrogen storage method is, the round trip efficiency for a P2G2P infrastructure is 40%, so intermittents require additional installed capacity to make up the missing 60%.

        Nuclear power does not need hydrogen storage of any significance, if at all. Nuclear power combined with green hydrogen production can be optimised in capacity terms for both technologies, for diurnal and seasonal load following of both electricity and hydrogen ‘fuel’ demand

        The BWRX-300 SMR has a commercial operation date of 2027. Within a few years the NOAK capital investment required will be US$2,250/kW – about £587 million for a 300 MW nuclear power plant (npp) in the UK. The capital investment required for 3,200 MW of capacity would be £6.26 billion, compared to £22.5 billion for HPC and £20 billion for Sizewell C.

        It has a 26 month build programme, which utterly negates the cost-of-capital burden that has crucified investment in nuclear power for decades. The playing field with intermittents is levelled.

        Every £1.00 of capital invested in the best of intermittents – onshore wind – will earn investors (taking into account all other significant costs) £0.70. £1.00 invested in a BWRX-300 npp would earn £5.02 (7.2X more)

        Come 2030, all of those pseudo-green fund managers will be clawing at one another’s throats to get their pots out of intermittents and into advanced nuclear. Search for:
        “invest now in onshore wind or invest in advanced nuclear”

        A nuclear power/green-hydrogen infrastructure will require a capital investment in the order of 1/5th of that of an intermittents/green-hydrogen infrastructure, so the nuclear power way to the mandated zero-carbon by 2050 UK target, gets my vote.

        You pays your money, you takes your pick. They’re the only 2 options on offer.

      • July 6, 2020 10:04 am

        I don’t understand your obsession with hydrogen, Colin.

        If we built a fleet of SMRs, they would be used as fixed baseload, just as existing nuclear (and coal in the past has been). They would run at close to full capacity and have no “surplus” to speak of.

        Either SMR stand up as a relaibale and cheap source of electricity or they don’t.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 6, 2020 3:35 am

        That reads like a copied unattributed puff piece, with a lot of unsubstantiated claims. Start with the claim of 40% round trip efficiency. You are going to lose 50% turning hydrogen back into power, which means that the rest of the system must be 80% efficient. It isn’t. Especially when operated intermittently, with a variable power supply.

        Incidentally, the amount of storage required for seasonal purposes is not trivial. The French study came to 47TWh: the greens at CAT to 60TWh for the UK.

        This paper

        https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032119307270

        is much more cautious about claims on SMR costs. You cite no source for your claim. Likewise, for your comparative economics with wind. It’s always necessary to pick apart the hidden assumptions that lie behind claims of this sort – but that requires access to the underlying work. Anyone can write in whatever figures they choose if they don’t have to show their workings. Now, I would dearly love the cost you quote to be true, because it would undercut the cheapest nuclear power built by Korea on the market by at least 50%, with UK regulation covered. Magical stuff.

      • Steve permalink
        July 6, 2020 7:06 am

        It is unlikely that the green lobby will allow SMRs to be sited anywhere near highly populated areas. The existing nuclear sites would have to be used to accommodate eleven SMRs together. However, this would make the management easier.

        The CCC technical report envisages only two or three large EPR sized nuclear stations and seems to be content to see the closure of 80% the British nuclear base generation. They envisage a huge increase in offshore wind with between 7,500 and 15,000 500ft turbines which they think will be supplying at £50/MWh.

        They apparently have ignored the question of the need for backup electricity to power heating, transport, industry and commerce during the inevitable two week period of freezing temperatures and zero wind when an anticyclone covers Western Europe, with all countries struggling to supply themselves. How much hydrogen would be needed to be stored in this circumstance. SEWTHA proved that hydro storage in the UK would be inadequate and battery storage is only for the innumerate. Before he passed away, Prof McKay gave his opinion that nuclear was the only practical solution. About 34 HP sized units.

        Gummer and his mix of academics and oil industry advisors have opted for big wind and using as much methane as now but building enough plant, carbon capture and distribution to triple the cost and profits.

        They have also ignored the real cost of bringing the worst insulated housing stock in Europe up to eco standard. Most houses would have to be ripped apart and reconstructed with less room inside as a result.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        July 6, 2020 2:27 pm

        You may not read German, but I found this

        Beispiel Power-to-Gas: Bei der Wasser-Elektrolyse zur Produktion von Wasserstoff mit erneuerbarem Strom liegt die Effizienz bei derzeit rund 60 Prozent. Das heißt: Rund 60 Prozent der Energie, die für die Elektrolyse aufgewendet wird, wird auch in Wasserstoff gebunden.

        Auch bei der Rückumwandlung von Wasserstoff in Strom bleiben nur rund 50 Prozent der Energie erhalten.

        That is an (optimistic, best conditions) efficiency of 60% on conversion to hydrogen, and 50% conversion back to power, for a round trip efficiency of 30%.

        https://www.kopernikus-projekte.de/faqs/ptx_faq

        They are a prime partner for Climeworks.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        July 6, 2020 2:58 pm

        Colin, clearly you are an expert, a nuclear, latterly SMR, proponent and lobbyist, having submitted to government consultations. e.g.

        https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/6986/pdf/

        You generally make a lot of sense. But I too do not get the hydrogen obsession, other than perhaps you think convincing politicians that it meshes well with ‘unreliables’, will get SMRs a foot in the door?

        Perhaps you could explain the advantage/necessity of using hydrogen in this context, other than just because misguided governments are already chucking money at it in a desperate bid to compensate for the massive shortcomings of wind power etc.?

        A few years ago the hydrogen(economy) fallacy was a pretty mainstream view. Has something changed?

        https://asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/energyresources/article-standard/126/4/249/461266/Fallacies-of-a-Hydrogen-Economy-A-Critical

        I also agree with the comment already made – where will SMRs be sited? We live in an age where the vociferous minority think democracy is being disruptive until they get their way, and of late, the government has caved in to extremist protests at an ever increasing rate. If you though anti-fracking protests were bad, try plonking an SMR somewhere?

      • Colin Megson permalink
        July 6, 2020 5:39 pm

        Carry on playing tunes with your hydrogen storage figures – I ain’t bovvered!

        Scroll down the RH column of this blogspot for all of the important links available for GE-Hitachi’s BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor (SMR). It is the simplest and therefore most cost-effective nuclear power plant (npp) that has ever been designed or is ever likely to be designed: https://bwrx-300-nuclear-uk.blogspot.com/

        Now here’s where your skills would be appreciated. This blogpost I did assumed a 2 years build programme for the BWRX-300 (a recent PP slide presentation from Fermi Energia put a 26 month figure on it). I argue that the cost-of-capital burden that has drained ‘green investment’ from nuclear and into intermittents, is utterly negated. The playing field is levelled.

        I then go on to add together all of the ‘significant cost’ content per MWh generated (capital investment; O & M; fuel: waste handling and storage; decommissioning). Against onshore wind (the most cost-effective of the intermittents), the ‘earnings’ (because the same figure for cost-of-capital will have to come out of both) for advanced nuclear is 7.2X greater: https://bwrx-300-nuclear-uk.blogspot.com/

        I’m an unqualified amateur in financial matters, so there may well be a blinding gap in my argument somewhere.

      • Steve permalink
        July 6, 2020 6:47 pm

        I wouldn’t fancy living anywhere near the Cheshire salt mines with 4TWh of hydrogen under my feet.

  7. Harry Passfield permalink
    July 5, 2020 4:53 pm

    Nice one, Paul. And may I also recommend this ( of two, I think) article by Willis on the subject:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/01/drilling-for-hydrogen/

  8. Rowland P permalink
    July 5, 2020 6:04 pm

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again- Al/air fuel cell is the way ahead for cars easily replaced after approximately 1500 miles. See Metalectrique.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 6, 2020 1:12 pm

      2Al2O3 + 3C -> 4Al + 3CO2

      You have to deoxydise the battery after use. Or smelt more aluminium, which is much the same thing.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      July 6, 2020 3:22 pm

      Producing Aluminium is extremely energy intensive and polluting in many different ways. Their page showing only water and oxygen coming out of the smelting process is a bit misleading, also includes some gases with 9,200 time the GHG potential of CO2 apparently. My gut says overall it will be worse than the current crop of batteries.

      Click to access AluminumManufacturing.pdf

      Theirs no such thing as a free lunch, well not unless the chef spat in it.

  9. Gamecock permalink
    July 5, 2020 6:26 pm

    ‘use of electrolysers to soak up excess low-carbon power generation’

    In a dystopian world of sporadic electricity availability, they have a use for the ‘excess.’

    Ray Sanders is correct: they are farcical.

  10. Peter permalink
    July 5, 2020 6:41 pm

    What is known about the CCC? Are the members of the CCC people you respect and do you believe that they know what they are talking about?

    Yes, I know all about Gummer, hence my question.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 6, 2020 11:06 am

      No and No

  11. July 5, 2020 10:29 pm

    Hydrogen is already used by industry. But they recover their costs by selling stuff for profit, otherwise they obviously wouldn’t be going to the trouble of producing it.

  12. Gerry, England permalink
    July 6, 2020 11:09 am

    The only sensible hydrogen use I have heard of is on a Scottish island. A windmill is used to drive an electolysis plant to make hydrogen to fuel vehicles as diesel/petrol is very expensive to get to the island. As long as the windmill works most of the time and powers the system enough any intermittancy is not a problem.

  13. Edward Cook permalink
    July 6, 2020 12:28 pm

    We’ll new pipe work as well, H2 being a somewhat smaller molecule than methane, natural gas plus the added smell. Methane still leaks out and we get the occasional explosion. Then there is the issue of the LEL. Hydrogen gas piped to the home under pressure, Hindenburg Zeppelin’s for all.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 6, 2020 3:29 pm

      …and completely uncosted.

  14. cajwbroomhill permalink
    July 6, 2020 5:04 pm

    Why are these fools bothering about the UK’s negligible contribution of CO2 output?

  15. Boganboy permalink
    July 7, 2020 2:58 am

    If I wished to get rid of CO2 (a waste of time and money, I’d say) I’d dig up some of the CO2 absorbing rocks sheltered from CO2 and O2 by being buried underground, grind them up and sprinkle them in shallow water throughout the world. This could be done with simple, direct, brute force, off-the-shelf, 19th century technology.

    Of course if I was worried that the world was getting too hot, I’d just add sulphur to jet fuel to reflect more of the sun’s rays.

    Trying to drive everything with H2 or electricity or windmills or solar panels as well is simply an extra waste of time, money and effort.

  16. pochas94 permalink
    July 7, 2020 4:11 am

    Assuming nuclear to HTE to hydrogen as transportation fuel is doable, and I think it is, one of the benefits will be political. No need to pipeline gas from Russia or other producing entities with all of the potential for conflicts of interest that entails. No strategies on who will own reservoirs and hence the power to enrich certain peoples for uncertain purposes. Nations will become energy independent and I believe that will be a good thing.

  17. Colin Megson permalink
    July 7, 2020 5:51 pm

    Selling sand to the Arabs comes to mind: https://secure.outsiderclub.com/o/web/241932

  18. Ottokring permalink
    July 8, 2020 12:37 pm

    I have just been watching a docu in German TV entitled “Hydrogen: Energy for the Future.”
    It was basically a puff piece for the German government’s drive to become the world’s leading producer of H2 technology.

    As much as I like the idea of Hydrogen power, it made depressing watching. Many of the arguments in the film, I remember from 20 years ago, including the imminency of cost-effective fuel cells and vehicles. They had a chap from Daimler on there, who was showing off the excellent technology that they had employed to make a fuel cell fit comfortably in a Merc saloon rather than in the back of a van, but ended with the killer that they were pulling the plug on R&D in favour of batteries.
    They showed a train running on H2 on a line that is too expensive to electrify. Nice idea, but the gas is kept at over 800 bar pressure in the fuelling depot, which sounds to me like a ticking bomb.

    The bit that really made me despair was some woman from an energy company who said that they could re-use 8,000 km of the gas pipeline network to heat homes and businesses with H2 and it would all be created with wind power. She managed to slip in the fact, unchallenged by the interviewer, that they would have to re-lay all the pipework with new armature to prevent leakage.

    All-in-all a hopelessly optimistic marketing film. It is such a shame, H2 is one of those technlogies I desperately would like to succeed, but the improvements down the years have all been marginal and just like with batteries there has not been any breakthrough in production, powertrain or transmission technology. As with Fusion, hydrogen as a cheap inexhaustible energy source is “just around the corner.”

  19. Mikehig permalink
    July 9, 2020 11:06 pm

    The GWPF published a very good paper on Hydrogen a few weeks ago. There is a link to the PDF within this announcement page:
    https://www.thegwpf.org/green-haste-will-trash-the-promise-of-hydrogen/

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