An expert group of scientists, academics and engineers on Thursday will launch the world's first independent coalition on hydrogen's role in the energy transition known as The Hydrogen Science Coalition, a statement from the group said.
The coalition members, who offer a diverse portfolio of hydrogen expertise, ranging from chemical engineering, energy processing, decarbonizing heavy-duty road transport, aviation and domestic heating, will volunteer their expertise to the media and policymakers to bring concrete evidence back into the hydrogen debate through briefings, access to data and media events.
'Policy-makers in the UK and EU are placing big bets on hydrogen's role in the energy transition. While hydrogen has an important part to play, we are concerned that an over-reliance on hydrogen will delay existing, cheaper and scalable solutions like electrification,' David Cebon, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Cambridge, was quoted as saying in the statement.
Based in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, the group plans to focus on hydrogen policies in the UK and EU.
'Any decisions to invest public money in hydrogen need to be backed up with facts. Relying only on vested interests to guide the development of a hydrogen sector risks undermining where the evidence tells us hydrogen should play a role,' Tom Baxter, a visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde, said.
According to the coalition's manifesto, governments should prioritize support for only zero emissions hydrogen, known as green hydrogen which is made from additional renewable energy such as wind and solar power.
'Hydrogen will not have the impact on climate we need if it is a fig leaf for continuing to burn fossil fuels which drive up emissions, it said in the manifesto.
It warned that blue hydrogen, which is produced by burning natural gas and attempting to capture carbon emissions with carbon capture and storage (CCS), should be approached with caution because CCS does not offer a complete solution particularly during production and transportation and comes with the risk of locking in expensive fossil fuels in the process.
In line with the coalition's manifesto, hydrogen offers an opportunity to decarbonize sectors of the global economy that do not have existing electrification solutions, create jobs and direct these sectors on a long-term deep decarbonization pathway.
In the manifesto, it recommends first targeting the sector where grey hydrogen is used. Grey hydrogen has been produced from natural gas for decades, but unlike blue hydrogen, the CO2 emissions are not captured.
Grey hydrogen, currently used for chemical feedstocks and fertilizer globally, accounts for roughly 3% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions which is close to the amount generated by the aviation sector globally.
The coalition also cautioned against the wasteful practice of blending hydrogen into the gas grid which reduces the energy content, necessitating the use of greater quantities of the mix to deliver the same amount of energy to the consumer.
'The use of hydrogen does not make sense for heating buildings, which is where the majority of the UK and EU natural gas grid services serve. Before blending our valuable green hydrogen into the natural gas grid, the priority needs to be areas where we can have significant and immediate emissions reductions,' the coalition said in its manifesto.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya