Considering the propaganda circulating out there about “green hydrogen” at the moment, ADVANCE has put together a list of ten fundamental issues with the new technology that Energy Minister Angus Taylor and his new best buddy Twiggy Forrest must address before wasting any more of our money on it:
1. At the government’s best-case-scenario price of $2 per kilogram (i.e. $16.68 per gigajoule), hydrogen is still more than threefold the current price of gas.
2. Generators need to use energy to extract the hydrogen before the hydrogen can be used, after which you get about 30 per cent of the energy and the rest gets dispersed. For instance, hydrogen has to be compressed to 700 times atmospheric pressure, which requires a huge amount of energy. Then it has to be liquified down to minus 283 degrees Celsius.
3. The production of one tonne of hydrogen through electrolysis required an average of nine tonnes of water. But to get these nine tonnes of water, it would not be enough to just divert a nearby river. The water that the electrolyzer breaks down into constituent elements needs to be purified. The process of water purification, for its part, is rather wasteful. According to the same source, water treatment systems typically require some two tonnes of impure water to produce one tonne of purified water. In other words, one tonne of hydrogen actually needs not nine but 18 tonnes of water. Accounting for losses, the ratio is closer to 20 tonnes of water for every one tonne of hydrogen.
4. Transportation of hydrogen brings new challenges. The hydrogen will leak out through the steel in pipelines, just the same as it leaks out from the earth. Leaking hydrogen will weaken the steel and present obvious and dangerous problems for transporters.
5. Metal embrittlement, via molecular weakening of steel, ensures hydrogen cannot be loaded into existing gas pipelines beyond a small percentage mix. To think Twiggy Forrest reckons he can make high-quality structural steel with this technology!
6. Electrolysis consumes 50 kWh (an average household consumes 16 kWh) and nine kilograms of water for every kilogram of hydrogen gas. But one kilogram of hydrogen gas can only produce enough electricity for one household (18 kWh).
7. Twiggy Forrest is preaching 15 million tonnes per year of green hydrogen production in Australia. This will require 750 TWh of electricity production, more than three times Australia’s total annual electricity demand (224 TWh), along with 135 million tonnes of water. In keeping with green hydrogen theology, that 750 TWh requires 285,000 MW of intermittent wind and solar capacity. That is almost five times Australia’s total generation capacity from all sources (60,000 MW). It is a lofty goal considering the last twelve months of wind and solar generation in the entire country would produce just over one million tonnes of green hydrogen.
8. In his 2003 state of the union address, US President George W. Bush committed $US1.7 billion to research into hydrogen, saying “hydrogen is the key to a cleaner energy future … so America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles”. Fast forward almost two decades later, we’ve seen essentially no progress.
9. The process of making blue hydrogen also requires a lot of energy. For every unit of heat in the natural gas at the start of the process, only 70-75 per cent of that potential heat remains in the hydrogen product. In other words, if the hydrogen is used to heat a building, you would need to use 25 per cent more natural gas to make blue hydrogen than if it was used directly for heat.
10. US researchers have found that methane emissions released when the fossil natural gas is extracted and burned are much less than blue hydrogen. More methane needs to be extracted to make blue hydrogen, and it must pass through reformers, pipelines and ships, providing more opportunities for leaks: enough, the research indicates, to make blue hydrogen 20 per cent worse for the climate than just using fossil gas.
We want answers now, Minister!
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