The latest greatest thing in dealing with climate change is hydrogen. Well, apparently so:
Can a hydrogen boom fuel a green recovery for Britain?
There being certain problems with what is being suggested of course. The biggie being that hydrogen is a very terror to transport. The molecules are small enough that they will leak through steel piping for example. It’s thus – if it’s great at all – great for local production for local consumption. This means that these plans for reformation of methane – natural gas – and the collection of the CO2 etc aren’t the way to do it. Those are large, centralised, plans, ones that just don’t mix well with the base physical nature of the gas itself.
If we were to get renewable electricity generation down another order of magnitude in price – maybe not that much from today’s price – then it could well make sense as the battery in the system. Generate electricity when the wind blows, electrolyse water, store the hydrogen and run it through a fuel cell when you want ‘leccie again. Could be considerably cheaper than batteries.
OK, well, maybe.
By far more the fun thing is the current plans:
“Blue” hydrogen – the kind Equinor hopes to produce in Hull – can be made almost carbon-free from natural gas, by using the capture and storage technology.
Equinor has made it clear that it will only proceed with its blue hydrogen plans for Hull if the government plays its part, sharing the risks of investing in a fledgling industry. “All our experience,” says Cook, “tells us that in projects of this scale and ambition, it only works when governments and companies work together. We will need clear frameworks and assurances and a commitment to investment from London.”
Aha, they want our cash. Which is a pity. Because this was suggested some 15 years ago. And turned down.
BP noted that they had old oil wells out in the North Sea that could be used to store that CO2. They also had natural gas they could reform. Finally, sticking the CO2 down the old wells would bring up the last of the oil in the reservoirs. Bodging it all together it sorta, almost, worked.
Except taxes. If they had to pay full royalty rates on the oil that came up then it didn’t work financially. So, they pointed out that if they didn’t try this scheme then the oil wouldn’t come up so there would be no taxes at all. So, could we please have a lower – no, not none – royalty rate on what we do pump up with the CO2 extracted from the methane? Seems a bit of a no brainer to you and me of course. Extra tax revenue, experiment gets done, all are quids in. But we’re not Gordon Brown who was Chancellor at the time. He said no. The experiment wasn’t done.
Equinor is proposing exactly the same test of the same technological idea. Except they want actual cash out of the Treasury, not just a little bit less to flow in.
So, there we have it, Britain 15 years late in testing a new saving the Earth from climate change technology at a higher price and all because Gordon Brown’s a tightwad. Well done Gordo, well done.
This is why we need politicians to direct the response to climate change of course.