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    Hydrogen is the fuel of the future. Or is it?

    Hydrogen is the fuel of the future. Or is it?

    Hydrogen is the fuel of the future. Or is it?
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)

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    The main issue is most hydrogen used is extracted from natural gas in a process that requires a lot of energy and releases a vast amount of carbon dioxide. It also releases methane which is a particularly potent greenhouse gas.

    A recent peer-reviewed study based on the climate effects of hydrogen raises doubt about its role in tackling greenhouse emissions. According to the study, “fugitive” emissions from producing hydrogen could be worse than those associated with extracting and burning gas.
    Hydrogen has been hailed as the fuel of the future for its ‘clean and zero-carbon’ features. Many believe fossil fuels can be replaced with hydrogen to help meet climate targets.
    Several industries have been promoting hydrogen as a reliable and next-gen fuel to power cars, heat homes, and generate electricity. It is believed hydrogen could play an important role in the energy storage or powering certain types of transportation, the wider hydrogen economy raises concern about damaging the climate.
    However, it may be worse for the climate despite all its advantages, researchers say. Experts warn that emissions from producing hydrogen could be 20 percent worse for the climate than using gas.
    The main issue is most hydrogen used is extracted from natural gas in a process that requires a lot of energy and releases a vast amount of carbon dioxide. It also releases methane which is a particularly potent greenhouse gas.


    Robert W. Howarth, a biogeochemist and ecosystem scientist at Cornell University and the study’s lead author, was quoted by New York Times as saying, “To call it a zero-emission fuel is something totally wrong. What we found is that it’s not even low-emission fuel, either.”
    Dr Howarth and Mark Z Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, studied the life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions of blue hydrogen. They accounted for both CO2 emissions and methane that leaks from wells and other equipment when natural gas is produced.
    The researchers have found drilling natural gas emits far more methane than previously known. They also took into account that natural gas is required to power carbon dioxide technology and found that the greenhouse gas footprint of blue hydrogen was more than 20 percent greater than burning natural gas or coal for heat.
     Green hydrogen
    The researchers recommended a focus on green hydrogen, which is made using renewable electricity to extract hydrogen from water, leaving only oxygen as a byproduct.
    As per Forbes, a recent analysis says that $2/kg is a potential tipping mark that will make green hydrogen and its other fuels competitive among multiple sectors including steel and fertilizer production, long-range shipping, and power generation.


    Green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy and electrolysis to split water. It is different from grey hydrogen which is produced from methane and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It is also different from blue hydrogen which stores those emissions and encapsulates them underground to prevent them from causing climate change.
    According to Goldman Sachs, green hydrogen could supply up to 25 percent of the world’s energy needs by 2050. It can become a US $10 trillion addressable market by 2050. According to Forbes, Catapult will require an investment of around US $110 billion to meet this target and will have to create more than 1,20,000 jobs.
    Seven of the biggest green hydrogen project developers have come together to launch the Green Hydrogen Catapult Initiative with an aim to increase the production of green hydrogen 50-fold in the next six years. The main objective of this initiative is to cut the cost of green hydrogen to less than $2/kg.
    The founding partners are Saudi clean energy group ACWA power, Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Envision, European energy giants Iberdrola and Orsted, Australian project developer CWP Renewables, and Yara, a Norwegian fertilizer producer.
    This step would immensely help cut emissions from the world’s most carbon-intensive sectors like steelmaking, shipping, chemicals production, and power generation.


     
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