Hydrogen can help decarbonize the UK economy but isn’t panacea, MPs say

Hydrogen tanks are pictured in Spain on May 19, 2022. Hydrogen has a wide range of applications and can be deployed in many industries.

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Hydrogen has a part to play in the UK’s transition to a net-free economy but its role will likely be limited to certain sectors, according to the report. to a report from an influential committee of UK lawmakers.

The House Science and Technology Committee concluded that although hydrogen possesses “a number of intriguing features, most of the evidence we have received is clear that with current technologies it is not must be a panacea.”

“As the UK looks to transition to a Net Zero economy, hydrogen is likely to have specific but limited roles in various areas for decarbonisation where other technologies – such as electrification and heat pumps – not feasible, practical or economical,” the report, published Monday, said.

Described by the International Energy Agency as a “flexible energy carrier”, hydrogen has a wide range of applications and can be deployed in many industries.

One method of producing hydrogen is to use electrolysis, a process in which an electric current splits water into oxygen and hydrogen.

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Some call the resulting hydrogen “green” or “renewable” if the electricity used in the electrolysis comes from a renewable source such as wind or the sun. Much of today’s hydrogen production is based on fossil fuels.

Monday’s report sought to assuage expectations about hydrogen’s role in cutting emissions and the transition to a zero economy.

“To make a major contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, hydrogen production requires significant advances in the economic implementation of CCUS. [carbon capture, utilization and storage] and/or develop the capacity to regenerate into hydrogen,” it said.

“The timing of these is uncertain and it would be unwise to assume that hydrogen could make a huge contribution to reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions in the short to medium term.”

Committee Chairman Greg Clark said that there are “significant infrastructure challenges associated with transitioning our energy grid to hydrogen, and uncertainty about when low-carbon hydrogen can be achieved.” produce on a large scale at an economic cost.”

“But hydrogen has important applications in specific industries, so in the words of a witness in our investigation, it could be ‘a big niche,'” Clark added.

Industrial group Hydrogen Europe did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Big plan, big challenge

Over the past few years, major economies and businesses have looked to the emerging field of green hydrogen to decarbonize industries that are integral to modern life.

During a roundtable discussion at the COP27 climate change summit last month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described green hydrogen as “one of the most important technologies for a climate-neutral world”. Queen.”

Scholz added: “Green hydrogen is key to decarbonizing our economy, especially for sectors that are difficult to electrify such as steelmaking, chemical industry, heavy shipping and cargo. No”. mature.

“Of course, green hydrogen is still a nascent industry, and its production is currently too costly compared to fossil fuels,” he said. “There’s also the ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma of supply and demand as market actors get in the way of each other, waiting for the other to move.”

Also appearing on the panel was Christian Bruch, CEO of Siemens Energy. “Hydrogen will be integral to the decarbonization of…industry,” he said.

“For us now, the question is how to get there in a world that is still driven, in business terms, by hydrocarbons,” he added. “So more effort is needed to make green hydrogen projects … work.”


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