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Rafe Champion guest post. Hydrogen is not the new LNG

This was actually written by Mark Lawson. We are collaborating on a collection of papers covering the main problems with intermittent energy. He appears frequently in The Spectator and he is a published writer in his own right. His website.

Key points

The use of hydrogen as the medium of a power export market has an obvious, major flaw. Unlike coal or gas, hydrogen can be created anywhere where there is water, wind and sun. Why should any country import the gas when they can make it on their own territory?

Hydrogen is not like LNG. It is much harder to put into liquid form, is much more likely to leak and has different properties which make it a far more dangerous gas.

Hydrogen has been used as a feedstock in many industrial processes for decades, but the vast bulk of the gas is consumed in the same place it is made, from methane and steam. This is a cheaper method of manufacturing than by using electricity.

Energy losses from converting electricity from renewables into hydrogen and then back again at the other end means that it is less wasteful to use a transmission line. These can now carry power over thousands of kilometres. A battery is also a more efficient and safer means of storing power, at least compared to hydrogen.

Hydrogen is already used widely in industrial applications and certain specialised power applications such as fuel cells for submarines, but it has no role at all as a means of transmitting or storing power. Its main role is as a comforting fantasy for activists hoping for the green nirvana.

The worst idea of a bad lot

If we had to hand out awards for the worst idea among all the proposals for generating and storing “clean” energy, then the large-scale use of hydrogen as a sort of alternative to LNG would be a major contender for the top prize.
The very concept of using hydrogen as a means of storing power from countless “pie in the sky” solar, wind and photovoltaic projects has a major, obvious flaw which the many very smart, driven individuals involved in the area (mining billionaires come to mind) have apparently failed to spot.

Unlike power from coal and gas green power can be generated anywhere, and almost any country that can be named has at some point talked about becoming the “Saudi Arabia of wind” as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson put it. In other words, why would, say, Japan, import horrifically expensive power from elsewhere when they can make horrifically expensive power in their own territory, including coastal waters?

This point was forcefully made by Professor of Engineering at the Australian National University, Andrew Blakers, in the Australian edition of The Conversation, an online site for academic articles, in early April (1). He says that in the March 2022 budget the federal government set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to expand Australia’s green hydrogen capabilities. These funds are supposed to help create a major green hydrogen export industry, particularly to Japan, for which Australia signed an export deal in January.

However, he also points out that Japan has more than enough solar and wind energy to be self-sufficient in energy and – assuming all that energy is harnessed – does not need to import either fossil fuels or Australian green hydrogen. Whether or not you agree with Professor Blakers that Japan can realistically meet all of its energy needs from local renewable energy the country can certainly generate hydrogen locally.

Background

Hydrogen is currently used as a feedstock for many industrial processes such as treating metals, producing fertilizer, and processing foods. Petroleum refineries use hydrogen to lower the sulphur content of fuels. Almost all of that commercial hydrogen comes from the traditional extraction method relying on steam and natural gas. And for good reason – this is by far the cheapest way of extracting hydrogen.

Proponents of renewable energy, however, now want to build hectares upon hectares of wind farms and solar energy generators to make hydrogen by passing an electric current through water. This involves putting two bare ends of a wire attached to a power source into the liquid. Hydrogen bubbles off the wire plugged into the negative side of the source, or cathode, and oxygen comes off the positive or anode wire.

The idea is to store this hydrogen in some way, preferably in liquid form like LNG, then ship it off to where it is needed as a replacement for fossil fuels in applications such as creating steel, generating electricity, powering electric vehicles, shipping and aviation. This is basically the vision set out in a 2019 report (2) produced by the impressively named Council of Australian Governments Energy Council Hydrogen Working Group, chaired by Australia’s chief scientist of the time, Professor Alan Finkel. This report set out pathways for developing such a trade, but it was full of recommendations for developing pilot projects and building supply chains. There was nothing about actual commercial opportunities. Like the bulk of recommendations in green energy the emphasis was on government action in order to create this export market, preferably by creating demand. Commercial interest would follow, or so it was hoped.

Should this hydrogen market come into existence vast amounts of hydrogen would be required but, as was not mentioned prominently in the Finkel report, the process of making, condensing and shipping hydrogen is known to be technical challenging and wasteful.

Professor Blakers cites an estimate that converting energy to hydrogen, shipping it to where it is needed and then converting back into energy could consume 70 per cent of the energy generated. Michael Liebreich, a senior contributor to BloombergNEF (new energy finance) wrote in 2020 (3) that as an energy storage medium, hydrogen has only a 50 per cent round-trip efficiency – far worse than batteries. He estimated that hydrogen-powered fuel cells, turbines and engines are only 60 per cent efficient – far worse than electric motors – and far more complex. As a source of heat, hydrogen costs four times as much as natural gas. As a way of transporting energy, hydrogen pipelines cost three times as much as power lines, and ships and trucks are even worse, he says.

Another factor that is particularly significant in Australia is the need for large quantities of very clean water for the process. This may not be an issue for the small pilot projects that will be funded by government grants, but it will probably preclude large-scale commercial production.

Activists who talk so glibly about using hydrogen to store energy are no doubt thinking of Liquid Natural Gas, which is now the basis of a thriving international trade using purpose-built container vessels. Thanks to enormous projects on the North West shelf and in Queensland, Australia’s exports in LNG are now double those of thermal coal by value.

The international trade in LNG started growing in the 1960s with the large scale adoption of techniques for liquifying the gas in giant facilities called “trains” and for keeping it liquid for long periods in what amounts to giant thermos bottles. LNG requires low temperatures, minus 160 degrees Centigrade, but the gas itself is a source of energy and some of that energy can be used to power the liquification process. Once at that temperature the liquid form of the gas can be stored relatively safely at atmospheric pressures. Apart from a couple of accidents when the technology was new, LNG has an impressive safety record.

All that occurred without the mixed blessing of government direction. The technical problems of shipping LNG were worked out, the facilities were built and customers were found to buy the output before the general public was fully aware of the general usefulness of being able to trade gas across oceans.

As noted, Hydrogen has been produced on a large scale for some time, albeit from steam and methane, but the bulk of it is consumed on the spot. Up to the 1960s hydrogen was also used in town gas pipelines, usually contributing around 10 per cent of the mixture in a still mainly methane system. This became uneconomic with the advent of the large-scale LNG industry.

Unlike LNG, hydrogen presents considerable difficulties in its storage and use. It is a much smaller molecule than methane, so seals and pipes that would comfortably prevent methane leakage do not keep hydrogen in. The liquification temperature for hydrogen is much lower than that of methane, specifically minus 253 degrees centigrade or just 14 degrees above what physicists call absolute zero – you can’t get any colder – and so requires considerably more energy to achieve and maintain. The alternative is to store the gas under very high pressures.
This leads to the problem of safety. Without getting into technical details, hydrogen has different burning and explosive properties to that of LNG and, as noted, a greater tendency to leak.

It is a far more dangerous substance than LNG. History buffs will recall the explosion and fire that destroyed the German airship the Hindenburg in 1937, which used hydrogen to stay afloat. The technology of airships was abandoned after that but the few such aircraft still in service use helium rather than hydrogen to stay aloft. At the very least, major hydrogen systems will require a stringent set of safety rules and procedures which may have to be learned the hard way.

Then there is the problem that switching to hydrogen is not just about slapping a hydrogen tank on an existing engine or using existing pipelines. Everything will have to be redesigned and rebuilt, all at eye-watering cost.
Faced with these inconvenient facts, activists offer counterarguments that range from the feeble to the ridiculous.

They claim that green power will be so cheap the wastage from using hydrogen to store the power will not matter. Really? Refer to the chapters in this book on renewable energy, in any case if it’s so cheap why wouldn’t each country create its own power and never mind any export market? If energy has to be shifted around internally, why not reduce the losses and use a transmission line? If power has to be stored then massed batteries may be almost as ridiculous a solution, but at least it would be cheaper, more efficient and (probably) safer than a hydrogen storage unit.

Another argument is that hydrogen can be stored cheaply in salt domes. These geological features are a key part of the formation oil deposits. The salt can be extracted comparatively easily to form large, underground pockets for gas storage, or so it is hoped. There are development projects in Europe and in the US looking at salt domes but the last word in this area such be left to another BloombergNEF report.

“Storing hydrogen in large quantities will be one of the most significant challenges for a future hydrogen economy. Low cost, large-scale options like salt caverns are geographically limited, and the cost of using alternative liquid storage technologies is often greater than the cost of producing hydrogen in the first place.” (4)

Activists also point to hydrogen’s possible use in town gas supplies. That is at least possible, but town gas mains are now run at much higher pressures than they were in the 1960s, and have been designed for methane, not hydrogen. There may well be safety issues.

There are already niche uses where the advantages of hydrogen outweigh the disadvantages such as in rocket fuel and fuel cells for submarines. However, the use of hydrogen as a means of storing and retrieving energy was the subject of considerable research long before the present activist enthusiasm but, unlike LNG, no technological solution permitting its commercial use in the power system has emerged.

To judge by the large amount of nonsense spoken and written about its use, the main value of hydrogen is not commercial at all. The gas’s main value has been to provide comfort to activists. It is one of the many fantasy stories they tell themselves in the expectation of some day reaching green nirvana, somewhere over the rainbow. It is about as much use as any other fantasy story.

References
(1) Australia plans to be a big green hydrogen exporter to Asian markets – but they don’t need it. The Conversation, April 4.
(2) Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, COAG Energy Council
(3) Liebreich: Separating Hype from Hydrogen – Part Two: The Demand Side, October 16, 2020.
(4) Hydrogen Economy Outlook – Key Messages, BloombergNEF, March 30, 2020

9.9 out of 10 based on 40 ratings

47 comments to Rafe Champion guest post. Hydrogen is not the new LNG

  • #
    Bruce+L

    Mark Lawson link not working.

    I couldn’t get the link to Mark Lawson’s website to work.

    Is this the site you are referring to?

    https://www.clearvadersname.com/

    10

  • #

    Having worked with hydrogen in the industrial gases industry this article is accurate and needs to be read by all politicians.

    I remember some time back attending an LNP meeting where Bert Van Manen (member for Forde here in south east QLD) excitedly announced that Australia would be exporting hydrogen to Japan. I approached him afterwards and laid out the same facts as here, and also emphasised the safety issues and that this was not going to work. Liquid hydrogen will condense oxygen into it, forming an explosive mixture. Bert is no idiot but clearly did not really want to hear that what he was saying was completely bonkers.

    Hydrogen is, as noted here, completely unsuitable and its totally laughable when people talk about using it en masse. There may be some niche applications but it is a complete and utter waste of time to keep pushing this completely uneconomic and dangerous “solution” to our energy issues. Of course Bert and his fellow parliamentarians don’t want to hear from me or others who inconveniently shatter their ill conceived policies – and no doubt he will far prefer to hear from the carpet baggers eager to relieve him and his govt of vast sums in grants, subsidies etc. Years and billions later we will find out how we have been duped. But Bert and co don’t care as long as they can Pied Piper like lead us out of the fossil fueled world we live in to a supposed hydrogen nirvana, even if it leads to the same bad end as that fairy tale.

    380

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      The tip is in the article “Faced with these inconvenient facts, activists offer counterarguments that range from the feeble to the ridiculous.”
      And thanks for that bit about condensation of oxygen at the low temperature of liquid hydrogen. I assume that nitrogen would also do so, although with less potential explosive results.

      50

    • #

      The best form of hydrogen storage is methane. Natures been doing it forever

      30

  • #
    Honk R Smith

    Likely to get zipped.
    Will try anyway’ cause I think this is to the core of the topic.
    Poor us, we think we’re in a debate.
    This is ‘debating’ at Harvard.
    10 years ago.
    That’s how out of touch we are.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZeDq90Ar4k&t=32s

    50

  • #

    Hopefully Twiggy reads this

    30

  • #
    Serge Wright

    Green Hydrogen looks like another link in a long chain of RE scams, but this one might have far greater global consequences. The real motivation for the hydrogen economy has only come about due to the late realisation that fertiliser production needs hydrogen and almost all of the worlds hydrogen comes from natural gas using steam reformation. If natural gas production gets curtailed then we’re looking at a potential mass extinction event. The problem with green hydrogen is cost, as articulated by Rafe, but if natural gas production does indeed get curtailed and wind and solar are used to make hydrogen and ammonia, then the cost of fertiliser will skyrocket and it won’t be possible for poorer 3rd world nations to afford fertiliser. Of course the RE cost issue will become evident after the loss of huge amounts of taxpayer funds to the wealthy rent-seekers and ultimately, nuclear power will be used to make hydrogen. The Japanese have already developed this technology which is vastly cheaper than using RE. The main problem will be the extra delay in getting to the proper required solution and this will likely create a big drop in global food production and mass starvation.

    140

  • #
    Zigmaster

    The best thing about hydrogen is that it makes the alternatives nuclear and Hele coal fired plants look so good. Why do people look for expensive unproven technologies when they have proven known technologies sitting there waiting to be exploited.

    190

  • #
    ozfred

    There have been announcements relating to the new catalytic systems which reduce the amount of energy required to create hydrogen gas. Hopefully in conjunction with large amounts of electricity generated without the need for “fuels”, the local creation of ammonia (and hence urea) or the use of hydrogen to convert iron ore to pig iron will become financially attractive.
    Import replacement and “value adding” of exports.
    Can we have a 100% local reservation of hydrogen production please.

    17

  • #
    Lance

    Using H2 to deliver energy is a fool’s errand.

    See Pg 27 of 36: https://afdc.energy.gov/files/pdfs/hyd_economy_bossel_eliasson.pdf

    Path:____Input Required, % original energy
    Gas_____________ 165%
    Liquid_________ 212
    Onsite Use:______166
    Hydrate Storage:_195

    At best, one must put IN 65% more energy than the H2 can deliver. At worst, 212% more energy.

    Kind of like driving around with the brakes on. One may do it, but why would one want to do it?

    120

    • #
      Lance

      The highest Hydrogen density of any synthesized liquid is Ammonia at 136 Kg/cu.m, and Synfuel Octane at 115 Kg/cu.m.

      See Pg 33, Fig 16 https://afdc.energy.gov/files/pdfs/hyd_economy_bossel_eliasson.pdf

      The Greens and Pollies seem to believe that reinventing known processes and results will lead to a different outcome.
      Another definition of insanity.

      100

    • #
      ivan

      The thing the hydrogen advocates always forget is the BOOM factor. Hydrogen stored in any container will eventually find a way to get out of said container and any spark or flame will create the BOOM.

      The same thing with the idea of piping it to houses to replace the normal gas supply – someone will leave the hydrogen turned on and unlit (hydrogen burning is almost invisible) which will result in the house going BOOM.

      The engineers using hydrogen in manufacturing are always very careful, I doubt the general public would take as much care.

      140

      • #
        ivan

        sorry. email suffered from fat finger.

        00

      • #
        drnano

        Back in the old days, before pocket UV detectors, the workers at the air distillation plant across the street would carry an ordinary corn broom out in front of them when advised of a loss of pressure in the Hydrogen section of the plant. When it burst into flame they knew they had found the hydrogen leak… and fire.

        Hydrogen burns mostly in the ultraviolet and the flame is pretty much invisible in daylight.

        The bright flames in the Hindenburg film and photos were produced by the burning canvas covered with dope that covered the frame.

        50

    • #
      cc

      From a purely chemical viewpoint, 1 kg of methane will produce 1/2 kg of hydrogen. Your input has 55.5 MJ of energy (HHV) and the output has 71 MJ. That isn’t a large gain considering the energy required to perform the reactions and store the stuff at the end. The reforming process is to produce pure hydrogen for an industrial purpose, using this process to cook breakfast is a false economy.

      40

  • #
    Honk R Smith

    Somehow I think that if a perfect, cheap, totally clean, reliable energy source were to suddenly appear, it would make no difference.
    It’s Clowns vs. Mimes at this point.
    We are facing midterm elections here the US.
    No Democratic candidate will be able to utter the statement ‘only women can have children’ without facing political ruin.
    In Australia, you can’t leave your Country or your province without getting a vaccine that is not a vaccine.
    In China we are witnessing the Great Leap Forward II.
    I hope the Mass Formation can be un-massed before too much trauma occurs.

    101

  • #
    Erasmus

    The public has been fed so much bs regarding RE via wind and solar that convincing them of the viability of “clean hydrogen” is easy. A reatively unknown blog, worthy as it is, will not reach all those people that the MSM reaches every day with its left leaning lite diet of info.

    50

  • #
    Foyle

    There are a lot of places in the world with potential for making incredibly cheap power – desert PV at $0.013/kWh already exists, and is essentially limitless. Patagonian/Chilean or Southern ocean and some other super windy locales at similar prices, it is currently a stranded, useless resource as grid connection to populations is uneconomic. But it can be used to make a huge amount of hydrogen cheaply. That hydrogen is projected to be made for as little as $0.7/kg, which is basically the same as natural gas in energy terms. And one it is shipped globally it can become a renewable energy source in combined cycle power stations everywhere at similar prices to current electricity.

    Hydrogen is useless for road transport, and probably for off road, but could work fine for global shipping and will be the fuel of choice for aviation starting in a few years given it’s low mass. You could make a scaled up concorde that could fly half way round the world on hydrogen in 8 hours due to its 3x energy per kg. A380’s could be converted to use hydrogen (need a lot of volume) It also makes a lot of sense for seasonal heating – replacing natural gas at prices that are about the same.

    Being so cheap it can also be synthesized into methane or even heavier liquid hydrocarbons at costs similar to current fossil fuel prices and can also power a lot of metal production and other chemical processing.

    Economics will drive it’s adoption, because it will become cheap enough to displace fossil fuels

    122

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      Unfortunately deserts lack supplies of water. It takes 9 tons of water to make 1 ton of hydrogen. (And you can’t use sea water as you would generate some chlorine).
      As for Patagonian/Chilean regimes there might be a bit much wind, those places are notoriously stormy which would mean the turbines would shutdown to avoid damage.
      And hydrogen may have (almost) 3 times the energy of an equal weight of petrol but you would need huge storage volumes because of its much lower density. As an example take a truck with a 200 Litre fuel tank. It woud hold 180 Kg. of diesel. The same tank would hold only 15 Kg. of liquid hydrogen, so even if you got 3 times the energy per Kg. you would get only a quarter of the distance before refuelling.

      And you don’t need to develop a way of making fuel from hydrogen, it has already been done. Look up the Fischer-Tropf reaction.

      120

    • #
      Robert Swan

      Economics will drive it’s adoption

      Righto. No need for subsidies or other government support. Let’s see how it goes.

      120

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      Unfortunately deserts are short of water, you need 9 tons of water to make 1 ton of hydrogen. And you can’t use sea water as that would generate chlorine gas.
      Patagonia?southern Chilé are very windy but you need to invent a new wind turbine as the current ones shut down n high winds (to avoid damage).
      As for hydrogen as a fuel you have to consider the volume as well as the weight. Take a truck with a 200 Litre fuel tank which would hold 180 Kg. of diesel (approx). The same volume would hold only 15 kg. of hydrogen, so even if you got 3 times the energy you woud have only a quarter of the range.

      And as for making fuel from hydrogen, its already been done. Look up the Fischer-Tropf reaction.

      60

    • #
      jpm

      Foyle
      First of all, everyone including you, seems to forget that there is not much clean water or any water available in a desert location. Australia is not known for excess water. It is a desert continent, isn’t it? It seems to be in drought at least half the time. That may be a significant problem!
      What evidence do you have that PV solar can produce electricity for $0.013/kWh and who will pay the subsidies? Yes all renewables in Australia receive a generous subsidy for each kwh produced and sold thanks to the Renewable Energy Target. In Australia, as many other places, the electricity generator (including renewables) receives the spot price at the time sold, not the amount tendered (most often much higher). While $0.013/kWh may have been tendered that is likely far below the amount received. Look up the description on how the spot price is determined, it is an eye opener.
      By the way, I think that distilled water should be used. Otherwise contaminants will gather on the elements as result of the electrolyse. A resistive coating would be formed on the element and that would make the process much less efficient or stop it all together. No one seems to have noticed these obvious problems.
      When I was working at an Electronics manufacturing plant we were regularly having trouble with contaminants in the PCB production processes and I am sure the same would apply to H2 production using electrolyse.
      John

      110

      • #
        Foyle

        water for making hydrogen is a non issue – you can get condense it cheaply enough from air if nothing else, and there is nowhere on earth that doesn’t have water available in sufficient quantities within a few 100km via vehicle transport, pipeline or from a deep borehole.

        010

        • #
          Kalm Keith

          Can’t
          Really
          Accept that
          Proposition.

          30

        • #
          paul courtney

          Mr. Foyle: “water [in the desert] is a non issue.”
          I’ve never been to the desert, but I have read about them. Water is an “issue” in the desert, if by “issue” you mean an impossible hurdle to your fool scheme. There is truly no limit to the capacity of the activist to brush aside an “issue” that is fatal to their idea, if one can tell us that water is not an issue in a desert.

          10

    • #
      Ronin

      Another dreamer.

      60

    • #
      Lance

      An A380-800 fuel-tank capacity is 315,292 liters, 257,814 kg, for Jet A-1 fuel. This gives a range of 10,410 km at payload capacity limit of 150,000 kg.

      The energy equivalent of Jet A-1 is approx 46 MJ/kg. H2 is about 130 MJ/Kg Liquid, so 2.83 times as efficient by mass. But. It takes about 10 Kg of tank weight to store 1 kg of liquid H2. So, storing H2 as liquid at -253 C, is actually 11.8 MJ/Kg so including the tank weight, H2 is only 25% as efficient as liquid Jet A-1 Fuel.

      So, either the A380 cuts range or payload by 75% to use H2.

      90

      • #
        Foyle

        Need to convert part of fuselage into LH2 tank, A380 is ideal because it had enormous 1570m³ fuselage volume, and suffered poor efficiency due to its high mass and gate-limited wingspan, a problem that would be much diminished if it were carrying only 80 tonnes of hydrogen rather than 250tonnes of kerosene, though in reality it would be more optimal to build a 40-50 tonne LH2 tank to leave more passenger/freight space at reduced maximum range. Arbus have started to work on converting A380 to hydrogen given it is now an uneconomic flying white elephant. There are a lot of nearly free A380s that could be suitable for cargo conversion, and cheap hydrogen fuel or LNG might let them undercut operating costs of kerosene fuelled air freighters.

        07

        • #
          PADRE

          It is strange that one of the most successful world airlines, namely Emirates, by no means regards the A380 as a white elephant. The airline cannot get enough of its fleet into the air now that world travel is recovering, even to and from convict Australia.

          60

          • #
            Foyle

            Emirates flies with massively subsidised fuel sourced from the UAE on about half their flights. The A380’s are economic dogs that can’t compete on a level playing field with more efficient smaller planes.

            21

            • #
              Kalm Keith

              How do we believe you on that after the other nonsense/misinformation/lies? about Hydo Gen.
              Credibility shot.

              42

        • #
          Lance

          You must have missed the part about tanking H2 is 11.8 MJ/kg at -253 C. That would be 63 tonnes of H2 at a 75% reduced cargo or range penalty and a 75% increase in fare costs. What part of “It does not economically work” do you not understand?

          Banging off into the echo chamber isn’t an answer. Trolls do that often.

          110

      • #
        Foyle

        10kg of tank to store 1kg of LH2? It’s actually more like 0.3kg. The rest of your comment is consequently wrong

        11

    • #
      Kalm Keith

      Before you talk Hydrogen it seems you are unaware of the schemes used by the Elites to rip us.

      Try to understand CO2 induced global warming and death by incineration due to CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

      Then check out the uneconomic, anti-environmental drama of so called Renewables.

      Chyna manufactures and sells renewables, but only to be bought and used outside Chyna where all the wokeies live.

      And nothing, absolutely nothing would convince me to fly in an aeroplane powered by Hydrogen.

      KK

      21

  • #

    So, it looks like “Twiggy” has got it wrong. Oh well, it’s his money and NO Government (Taxpayer) subsidies please……………

    60

    • #
      Kalm Keith

      I assumed that the whole scheme was designed to harvest the inevitable Taxpayer Subsidies.

      It’s going the ten years of trying before they discover it doesn’t work.

      60

  • #
    another ian

    Hydrogen gets a mention here

    “Systems and the Second Law”

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2022/04/18/systems-and-the-second-law/

    00

  • #
    IainC

    Whenever I see RE proposals announced, I like to go BOTEing (Back of The Envelope calculations based on the presented figures.)
    If Fortescue won’t do the calcs, I’ll have a go. I’ve quoted some figures from last year’s Australian newspaper article about his H2 schemes.
    It takes about 50kWh of electricity and 10kg of water to produce 1kg of hydrogen.
    And here is (one of the) fatal flaws in the whole “RE + water = H2 energy” proposals. A small EV’s battery can be charged with around 50kWh, and a hydrogen fuel cell would require 4-5kg H2 for equivalent range, so that’s 75-80% energy wasted by diverting the electrons from direct charging to (eventual) fuel cell energy.
    That suggests the 250,000 tonne a year hydrogen production centre planned by FFI in Argentina, announced in November with a provisional cost of $US8.2bn, would need to build about 5GW of renewable energy generation capacity
    The other fatal flaw is the insistence on using wind or solar RE, the most expensive and least efficient forms of RE (hydro and nuclear would be far superior). How much would a continuous non-nuclear/hydro “green” electricity supply that eschewed gas and coal cost? We can guess. Mike Cannon-Brookes announced a plan (project Sun Cable) to deliver 3GWh continuous DC supply to Darwin from a AUD30 billion (!) 100 square km solar plant in the Simpson, backed up with 42GWh of batteries (!) to “ensure” continuity of supply. A 5GWh source would be around 50bn capital cost. A bit steep for 0.25MT H2, and implies 3 trillion AUD capital cost – just for the electricity generation, mind you – to make 15MT per year.
    Here’s another one for you, chaps, apropos Twiggy’s “15MT H2 by 2030” proposal. Quotes are from a report on the H2 economy and potential plant costs. I have plenty more.
    Just to give you an idea of the scale of subsidies…ooops…investment needed to realise this “15MT hydrogen by 2030, that’s 8 years from now, folks” fantasy, here is the IEA estimate for global dollars. I believe that this is off by a factor of 10, as Australia’s investment alone will be of this magnitude.
    The International Energy Agency also named Australia as one of the key countries best placed to produce hydrogen from renewables but warned that globally a whopping $US1.2 trillion of investment is needed in the fuel to meet 2030 net zero emission goals.
    Here’s one local figure for scaling up.
    …the $750m Trafigura plant would aim to produce 36,500 tonnes of hydrogen a year from a 440 megawatt electrolyser
    So 15MT would require 411x that, or 308bn and 180GW of electrolyser power.
    Scale up will make it cheaper, you cry.
    In the Northern Territory the Desert Bloom project, which has the potential to grow to a $15bn, 410,000 tonnes-a-year operation, is being backed by Sanguine Impact Investment…
    So 15MT is 26.6x that 10x monster scaleup, so costing is 548bn on that basis, even more.
    How much will the green electricity alone cost? Let’s look at solar. The Sun Cable 100km2 solar project says 30bn will give a 3GW continuous 24h supply (backed by 40GWh of batteries!!!), so 180GW will need 60x that, or 1.8 trillion.
    I hope somebody in government has done some sums. I fear not.

    30

  • #
    Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Australia will be able to sell hydrogen to Japan because the Japanese want to keep their own rivers for rice-growing, so will not use their fresh-water supplies to generate hydrogen. Other countries might feel the same, especially small island nations which can’t afford desalination plants, or hydrogeneration facilities.

    10

  • #
    another ian

    UK

    “ROC Windfall Profits Hit £923 Million In UK, December 2021”

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2022/04/19/roc-windfall-profits-hit-923-million-in-uk-december-2021/

    00

  • #
    J Cuttance

    The best and highest-density storage medium for hydrogen fuel is kerosene.

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    […] post, written by a fellow named Mark Lawson, examines green hydrogen and finds it a rather dum idea. […]

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