By Paul Homewood
It’s only taken these so-called experts two decades to work this out!
Britain must set up a vast network of hydrogen-filled caves to guard against the risk of blackouts under the net zero shift, according to the country’s premier science body.
The Royal Society has said 900 caverns filled with hydrogen will be needed to ensure the UK can keep the nation’s lights on during periods of low wind and sunshine.
he proposed facilities would be capable of storing billions of cubic metres of hydrogen, which could be used to power electricity generators during bouts of mild weather when wind farm outputs plummet.
The report is perhaps the starkest warning yet of the risks faced when relying on intermittent weather-dependent energy sources without sufficient backup.
It warns: “The UK’s need for long-term energy storage has been seriously underestimated.
“Large-scale energy storage is essential to mitigate variations in wind and sunshine, particularly long-term variations in the wind, and to keep the nation’s lights on. Storing hydrogen, in salt caverns, would be the cheapest way of doing this.”
The report finds that up to 100 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of storage will be needed by 2050, roughly equivalent to the energy contained in 1.2 billion Tesla car batteries.
The forecast is based on 37 years of weather data and the assumption that oil and gas power sources will be phased out in the coming decades. 100 TWh of backup power would be enough to power the country for weeks on end if needed but would require huge infrastructure.
Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, lead author of the report, said: “Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2050 with the electrification of heat, transport, and industrial processing, as well as increases in the use of air conditioning, economic growth, and changes in population.
“The demand will mainly be met by wind and solar. They are the cheapest forms of low-carbon electricity generation, but they are volatile and will have to be complemented by large-scale supply from energy storage or other sources.”
Sir Chris said that although nuclear, hydro and other sources were likely to play a role, they are also more expensive than hydrogen storage.
Theoretically all of this may be technically possible, but at what cost.
Apart from the cost of storage (and the distribution network to take hydrogen to and from these salt caverns, electrolysis is a very expensive process. Moreover it wastes a lot of energy. Because of low energy efficiency, you would need 500 TWh of wind power to produce enough hydrogen to make 100 TWh of electricity.
And we now know that offshore wind is a lot more expensive than we were told.
And on top of all of that, we would need to build 100 GW of hydrogen burning power stations for the times when there is little wind.