By Paul Homewood There’s going to be a long queue forming for all of these billions of public funds promised to turbocharge growth. Yesterday it was the turn of the Hydrogen Strategy Now group to push their way to the front of the line: Needless to say, Hydrogen Strategy Now is made up of […]Call For UK Hydrogen Strategy — NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
JUNE 18, 2020tags: hydrogen
By Paul Homewood
There’s going to be a long queue forming for all of these billions of public funds promised to turbocharge growth. Yesterday it was the turn of the Hydrogen Strategy Now group to push their way to the front of the line:
Needless to say, Hydrogen Strategy Now is made up of the usual group of lobbyists and rent seekers.
Air Products and BOC, for instance, manufacture and sell hydrogen. Energy companies like EDF will no doubt make a fortune selling it to consumers, while businesses such as Siemens, Alstom, JCB and Wrightbus will manufacture the buses and trains planned. There will also be plenty of money to be made by infrastructure companies like ARUP.
So what are they all hoping for from Rishi Sunak. There will certainly need to be some initial public funding, without which their promised £1.5bn is unlikely to materialise.
But the most important they are looking for is a firm strategy, which effectively locks public policy into a hydrogen future, whether for transport, heating or industry. This is because hydrogen is not a commercially viable solution, without government intervention.
Put simply, the production of hydrogen is a complex, expensive and highly inefficient process, and one which is extremely wasteful of energy.
Most experts, including the Committee on Climate Change have already dismissed electrolysis as no more than a niche application, totally incapable of producing the quantities of hydrogen required to replace oil and gas.
As for steam reforming, this involves taking natural gas, and using steam to produce a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and some carbon dioxide. The production of steam of course involves a waste of energy, and the resulting carbon dioxide still needs to be somehow captured and stored. Unsurprisingly the whole process is extremely expensive, not least the cost of building all of the new production plants needed.
On top of that, there would be the massive cost of converting household appliances and distribution networks to handle hydrogen. The Committee on Climate Change reckon this could cost up to £100bn, while the costs of producing and storing hydrogen would add £10bn a year to current household energy bills.
Clearly we are talking about huge amounts of money here, so it is little wonder that these companies are so keen to get their hands on a share of it. But, as with the rest of the renewable boondoggle, someone else ends up paying the bill.