"Gas companies and utilities are in a pickle. Their entire business model
relies on the extraction, transport, and combustion of methane, one of the most
potent greenhouse gases known to humankind. With many countries aiming to reach
net-zero emissions by 2050, these companies face an uncertain future.
One solution they’ve proposed is slipping hydrogen into their distribution
lines, either partially or fully replacing natural gas, so that people can burn
it to heat their homes or generate electricity. When produced using solar and
wind power, hydrogen is a zero-carbon fuel, and while refitting natural gas
infrastructure would be expensive, it would give gas-only utilities a reason to
The problem is that producing so-called “green” hydrogen is expensive and will
remain so for a decade or more, according to forecasts.
To buy themselves time, utilities and oil and gas companies have proposed
producing hydrogen from natural gas. Most hydrogen today is made by exposing
natural gas to high heat, pressure, and steam in a process that creates carbon
dioxide as a byproduct. In what’s called “gray” hydrogen, all that carbon
dioxide is released into the atmosphere. In “blue” hydrogen, facilities capture
the carbon dioxide and sell it or store it, usually deep underground.
Blue hydrogen is viewed by some as a bridge fuel, a way to build the hydrogen
economy while waiting for green hydrogen prices to come down. In the meantime,
blue hydrogen is also supposed to pollute less than gray hydrogen, natural gas,
or other carbon-intensive fuel sources.
Except blue hydrogen may not be low-carbon at all, according to a new
peer-reviewed study. In fact, the study says the climate may be better off if
we just burned coal instead."
Via Douglas Pierre and Muse.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics