According to new research, blue hydrogen, which is marketed as a climate solution by fossil Fuel companies, has a 20 percent higher greenhouse gas footprint than natural gas. The research, which was published in the journal Energy Science & Engineering on Thursday, provides critical background for a much-hyped new Fuel that also happens to be the “clean energy” apple of the fossil Fuel industry’s eye.
Hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, holds great potential for the energy transition. It can power cars, provide electricity to buildings, and aid in the decarbonization of difficult industries like manufacturing and construction. Hydrogen may be extracted from oxygen in water using electrolysis to produce green hydrogen, which is a low-cost solution that does not emit any greenhouse gases.
It can also be extracted from fossil Fuel such as coal and gas to produce grey hydrogen. This is a little less expensive than green hydrogen, however the hydrogen extraction process produces a lot of CO2. Faced with mounting calls to decarbonize, as well as a large supply of natural gas that needed to be put to use, fossil Fuel companies devised a scheme to rebrand grey hydrogen as low-carbon by absorbing all of the carbon emissions associated with its production.
Blue hydrogen, a grey hydrogen that uses carbon capture and storage technology to eliminate all those pesky carbon emissions and become a technically lower-carbon Fuel, was born. As part of their public relations campaign for a lower-carbon future, Big Oil saw the chance to employ blue hydrogen.Robert Howarth said in an email, “As far as I can tell, no one was talking about blue hydrogen until just a few years ago. The Hydrogen Council was established in 2017 by BP, Shell, and Total, and they and other industry-related groups started pushing this blue hydrogen idea hard. They described [blue hydrogen] as low emissions, or sometimes zero emissions. But they never presented real data to back that up.”