Green hydrogen: the next big thing?

“Hydrogen holds a vice-like grip over the imagination of techno-optimists” wrote Michael Liebrich, a senior contributor to Michael Bloomberg’s international media empire that is the spearhead of his anti-coal campaign.

Liebrich sketched the history of the hydrogen obsession that has captivated our Chief Scientist and also prompted the EU to make Green Hydrogen a major pillar of their “Climate -Neutral Europe” and their Covid Recovery Strategy.”  The EU wants to generate massive quantities of hydrogen electrolysed from water using RE.

That produces Green Hydrogen without generating CO2, unlike the processes used to make Brown Hydrogen from coal without any attempt to capture the CO2, Grey Hydrogen that comes from methane gas without carbon capture, and Blue Hydrogen from gas and carbon capture and storage.

The point is that hydrogen is an essential ingredient or feedstock for many industrial processes and we cannot live without large quantities of it. The processes that generate CO2 at the same time of course upset people who are don’t like emissions and so Green Hydrogen is the holy grail for climate alarmists.

The EU had budgeted some 300 to 500 billion euros to spend before 2030 in that pursuit, with a mix of electrolyzer capacity boosting, massive expansion of wind and solar power and ancillary services like hydrogen transport, distribution, storage and refuelling stations. Believe it when you see it!

Liberty Quote – What the doctrine of balancing budgets over a period of many years really means is this: As long as our own party is in office, we will enhance our popularity by reckless spending — Ludwig von Mises

 

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47 Responses to Green hydrogen: the next big thing?

  1. Mark M

    It’s deja vu all over again …

    “Brisbane’s City Plaza was buzzing as the revolutionary vehicle was unveiled on July 14, 1980.

    It might have looked like any other 1974 Ford Fairlane, but Horvath insisted that under the green bonnet was a device which could turn water into hydrogen via a controlled, thermonuclear reaction.

    Conventional wisdom was that you needed to surround such a reaction with tonnes of concrete shielding, but Horvath’s V8 emitted less radiation than a colour TV. Or so he said.

    Joh was an inventor himself and the fact he had let himself be duped by such a ridiculous scam made Queensland a national laughing stock.

    Queensland Rail even selected a diesel-electric locomotive for conversion to hydrogen power and Horvath announced plans to convert the Howard coal-fired power station, near Maryborough.”

    Horvath’s hydrogen Fairlane
    https://www.couriermail.com.au/archive/news/horvaths-hydrogen-fairlane/news-story/24fddbda2900f1d0ac4b40083f858c2f

  2. Mother Lode

    So they have a new totem now that they must accept that traditional renewables can’t deliver as promised.

    I wonder what they will come up with when they discover that Green Hydrogen does not work either?

  3. Eyrie

    I wonder what they will come up with when they discover that Green Hydrogen does not work either?

    That’s a feature, not a bug. Impoverish society by wasting vast amounts on green boondoggles and when they don’t work you have successfully eliminated industrial civilisation. Mission accomplished!

  4. Herodotus

    Using expensive and unreliable RE to produce Hydrogen at a cost not competitive with petrol or avgas, and then experience the handling and storage issues.

  5. nb

    Well, I was at cocktails for a hydrogen-as-green-power conference and I said the word ‘nuclear’. The room went totally silent. You could hear a pin drop. Fortunately conversation started up again about the relative virtues of wind, solar, hydrogen, as though nothing had happened.

  6. H B Bear

    More unicorn farts from the usual grifters.

  7. duncanm

    Mark M
    #3634146, posted on October 27, 2020 at 7:08 am

    It’s deja vu all over again …

    more than you thought. Once a grifter, always ..

    Star Scientific

    https://twitter.com/StarScientific_

    Focus is, of course, government ‘relations’.
    https://starscientific.com.au/matthew-hingerty-joins-star-scientific-as-chief-of-communications-and-government-relations/

  8. Mark M

    If only they had ‘green hydrogen” … and a carbon (sic) tax …

    Crossing the ice: an Iron Age to medieval mountain pass at Lendbreen, Norway

    “Artefacts exposed by the melting ice indicate usage from c. AD 300–1500, with a peak in activity c. AD 1000 during the Viking Age—a time of increased mobility, political centralisation and growing trade and urbanisation in Northern Europe.
    Lendbreen provides new information concerning the socio-economic factors that influenced high-elevation travel, and increases our understanding of the role of mountain passes in inter- and intra-regional communication and exchange.”

    And then the’ global warming’ ice age came, followed by current global warming …

    “Mountain passes have played a key role in past mobility, facilitating transhumance, intra-regional travel and long-distance exchange. Current global warming has revealed an example of such a pass at Lendbreen, Norway.”

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/crossing-the-ice-an-iron-age-to-medieval-mountain-pass-at-lendbreen-norway/F6C3FDBC94AD652EF4D2E79ED1697F1A

    Melting Ice Has Revealed Artefacts From a Lost Viking Highway in Norway
    https://www.sciencealert.com/artefacts-scattered-along-a-lost-viking-highway-in-norway-uncovered-by-melting-ice

    Maybe there a secret race of global warming fairies living beneath the ice as we speak, and, it was never warmer before the ice came.

    It’s the MWP. That’s why interglacial periods are called ‘optimum periods’.

  9. duncanm

    In case the above was a little obscure,
    Star Scientific’s Global Group Chairman, Andrew Horvath
    is Stephen Horvath’s (he of the Qld hydrogen car) son.

    I’m being a bit harsh on them. It sounds like they may have discovered something useful (a hydrogen-acting catalyst system they call “HERO”) while pursuing the shiny ball of Hydrogen cold fusion with muons or whatever it was. It does happen.

    **calling BoN** – they’re even based in Newie.

  10. Bruce of Newcastle

    Not interested Duncan. I’ve seen stuff like this come and go, and its still stupid.
    Muon catalysed fusion may be useful, but hydrogen isn’t sensible, except to produce methanol as a fuel. And that is only required in the far future since it is easy to convert coal to crude.

    Shutting CSIRO Industrial Drive whizbang energy centre would save a lot of money.

  11. Jonesy

    Two numbers to remember 720Bar equals 10044psi. This is the nominal internal pressure required to store enough hydrogen in a car. Now, think of the type of connection required to ensure safe transfer of the fuel. LPG, for example, transfers at about 110psi.

  12. Nob

    Star Scientific is in Gordon , Sydney, just across the road from an oil & gas drilling consultancy firm I know by the station there.

    You gotta wonder about engineering companies that have more government liaison people than engineers.
    But pretty much every “renewables” outfit I’ve dealt with is biased that way.

  13. Entropy

    The current fantasy in CSIRO is that Australia will produce all this Hydrogen using solar in northern Australia, and ship it around the world.
    Why not just crack water locally and not bother with the hassle of buying and shipping H2 from far off Australia?

  14. Entropy

    Nob
    #3634297, posted on October 27, 2020 at 9:58 am
    Star Scientific is in Gordon , Sydney, just across the road from an oil & gas drilling consultancy firm I know by the station there.

    You gotta wonder about engineering companies that have more government liaison people than engineers.
    But pretty much every “renewables” outfit I’ve dealt with is biased that way

    They aren’t energy producers, they are subsidy farmers.

  15. duncanm

    The big issue of course is generation and storage. It is completely useless for transport.. but who’s to say we can’t use large low-pressure or ammonia storage for renewballs backup?

    I’m trying to keep as open a mind as possible, but I’d need to see the numbers, and I strongly suspect there are big technical issues and the numbers don’t stack up anyway

  16. Arnost

    For future fuel use H2 on its own has major issues … but if there is a second step (and RE can again be used) to combine the H2 with CO2 you can get Methanol or even Ethanol. And these can be a serious fuels for future use in both transport or even baseload electricity generation! [And if you draw down the CO2 from the atmosphere the fuel does not “pollute” … atmospheric CO2 concentration is maintained / unchanged]

  17. Entropy

    The plus side of H2 is it would only take few minutes to fill the tank, as opposed to an hour or more for recharging a battery.

  18. Ben

    To produce 1 kg of H2 (via electrolysers) requires 54 kWh electricity and 9 kg water…

  19. Nob

    Entropy
    #3634308, posted on October 27, 2020 at 10:08 am
    Nob
    #3634297, posted on October 27, 2020 at 9:58 am

    They aren’t energy producers, they are subsidy farmers.

    Sure – I was looking at getting into it in the UK back in the 90s, during a low period in oil & gas.
    I used to go to all the “alternative energy” expos to see what I could learn , maybe sniff out some opportunities.

    One guy from a small firm doing something to do with bearings for wind turbines (still an issue 25 years later) told me bluntly that the most valuable skill they needed was writing grant applications.

  20. Michael

    I recall a conference on the topic of The Hydrogen Economy being held in Broome in 2003. In other words, all those true believers in self-enrichment through renewables attended yet another junket with a capital “J”, and 17 years of no progress later they are still banging the same drum.

  21. Shy Ted

    Read all your comments, not feasible. Just waiting for ScoMo to announce the funding.

  22. Botswana O'Hooligan

    Hindenburg and Hydrogen, says it all really.

  23. tombell

    pixies at the bottom of the garden on treadmills may be an option….

  24. RobK

    H2 is the (desperate,delusional) logical next step when you have convinced yourself that RE is so cheap that you overbuild it to 700% to reduce storage problems, then you build H2 plant to kick in when you have a glut of weather power. It’s all doable with someone else’s money. Taxes and super.
    https://reneweconomy.com.au/can-renewable-hydrogen-become-the-netflix-of-the-energy-sector-30094/

    The head of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency says renewable hydrogen should emerge as the ‘Netflix of the energy sector’, providing a ground-breaking technological step-change that would deliver an export market for renewables and cheaper electricity for Australian consumers.

    “I think hydrogen is going to be the Netflix of energy,” ARENA CEO Darren Miller told the AFR energy summit on Thursday. “I have no reason for saying that other than I think that it is an incredibly flexible molecule, and it is exciting for Australia, having multiple end uses.”

    Miller earlier this week told the Energy Insiders podcast that Australia could be aiming for up to 700% renewable energy, with a massive ramp-up of renewable energy capacity and the excess being directed towards the production of renewable hydrogen for export.

    Great government investment by those who not only hold the purse strings but also the policy book.
    Desperate measures for desperate times.

  25. RobK

    In reality you have to over build to that extent just to allow for maintenance and upkeep of the rapidly depreciating assets and storage. Not much export going to happen soon. You couldn’t even make economic fertiliser without subsidies.

  26. Arnost

    H2 (via electrolysers) requires 54 kWh electricity

    Yes … sure. But if you use solar the electricity is essentially “free” once infrastructure costs are absorbed. And water is usually available where the wind blows the most (coast) or transportable even to desert areas what are cloud free should solar be used for electrolysis (or photocatalytic or electrochemical process).

    My suggestion is that the H2 can be then combined with CO2 to give methanol [3H2 + Co2 = CH3OH + H2O].

  27. MPH

    All energy sources are just forms of storage, the beauty of hydrocarbons or nuclear is that they are already charged by nature so we just have to transport them and extract the stored energy. Even green hydrogen gives you back less energy than you put into making it, especially if it is a thermal generation process at the other end.

  28. Eyrie

    Questions: How pure does the water that is electrolysed have to be?

    H2 + CO2 can make methane via the Sabatier process. Perhaps BoN can tell us if the methane can be synthesised into higher hydrocarbons. Means existing infrastructure can be used.

    Daihatsu are keen on fuel cells running on hydrazine hydrate. They think they have solved the storage/safety/toxicity issues.

  29. Entropy

    I think hydrogen is going to be the Netflix of energy,”

    WTF? I mean, WTF!

  30. Bazinga

    @nb “Well, I was at cocktails for a hydrogen-as-green-power conference and I said the word ‘nuclear’. ”

    One of the times I’d wish to be a ventriloquist, dropping the N word everywhere.

  31. Rob MW

    The EU had budgeted some 300 to 500 billion euros to spend before 2030 in that pursuit, with a mix of electrolyzer capacity boosting, massive expansion of wind and solar power and ancillary services like hydrogen transport, distribution, storage and refuelling stations. Believe it when you see it!

    I’m trying to imagine the replacement cost(s) of all the current diesel powered agriculture, mining and transportation machinery, and not to put make a too finer point, most probably this machinery would become instantly worthless/written-off on the hand and the capital purchase of approved powered machinery on the other.

    Sorry, I’m sure the nutters have thought about this and will have advice coming soon.

  32. flyingduk

    [And if you draw down the CO2 from the atmosphere the fuel does not “pollute” … atmospheric CO2 concentration is maintained / unchanged]

    yep, but coal and oil are already doing that – where do you think the CO2 in them came from originally if not out of the atmosphere? I love asking the climate worriers that…

  33. flyingduk

    All energy sources are just forms of storage, the beauty of hydrocarbons or nuclear is that they are already charged by nature

    correct, nature already perfected storage of solar energy… its called fossil fuels.

  34. Bruce of Newcastle

    How pure does the water that is electrolysed have to be?

    Eyrie – Not especially that I can recall. I used to work at a plant that made ammonia using hydrogen from water electrolysis. You don’t actually have pure water in the cell – it’s a potassium hydroxide solution. The KOH is a catalyst that isn’t consumed. Water is fed in to replace the gaseous H2 and O2 emitted from the electrodes.

    The main issue is impurities would build up requiring the electrolyte to be purged or purified. Chloride from salt isn’t too bad since it ends up as Cl2 contaminating the O2, which you are throwing away anyway.

    I don’t see any reason to convert hydrogen to methane. You can already put hydrogen through reticulated gas pipelines in replacement of natural gas. Compressed methane is hopeless for vehicles. As we’ve said it would be better to convert the hydrogen to methanol, since methanol is nearly interchangeable with petrol logistically. I’ve suggested nuclear methanol several times. But as I said upthread we can easily do CTL, which is cheaper, and there’s plenty of coal for the next thousand years or so.

  35. Rafe Champion

    I wonder how long it will take for the RE debacle – the impact of cost and reliability of power, to blow back on the root of the campaign, the global warming fraud?

  36. RobK

    Entropy,
    I think hydrogen is going to be the Netflix of energy,”
    WTF? I mean, WTF!

    It follows with….
    “I have no reason for saying that other than I think that it is an incredibly flexible molecule, and it is exciting for Australia, having multiple end uses.”

    So it’s all good. Get your wallet out.

  37. RobK

    Rafe,
    I wonder how long it will take
    While the RET type parasitic cross subsidies can persist to bank roll the largesse. As soon as coal has withered on the vine completely, RE will stand naked before busted-arse consumers.

  38. Professor Fred Lenin

    Soros hedging his bets on windmills and solar? Hewill buyenogh concerned progressive polliemuppets to get the legistlation the make him more money . He owned obama ,and there is no difficulty buying Creepy joe , he has been for sale foe 47 years . The windmill and solar bullshit must be wearing thin no shortage of crap from the globalist left .

  39. NuThink

    Germany has been making hydrogen powered submarines for a few years. They are both diesel and AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) using Hydrogen and an oxidizer, able to stay submerged without snorkel for 3 weeks giving a total range of 14,800 km. Very silent when running on hydrogen, and composite materials reduce the magnetic signature. I cannot determine the speed on AIP alone or workout range and speed satisfactorily from the data given as it appears to me to ne inconsistent. It says range at 15km/h (which is 2,520km per week) gives range of 14.800 km which is nearly 6 weeks and not 12.
    They certainly are much cheaper ( Cost: €280-560 million[1]) than Turnbulls subs and probably require fewer crew which would make recruitment easier (5 officers, 22 men).
    I would rather go with German Engineering than French and heard an interview with French taxi drivers who were asked why they drive Mercs and not French cars. The answer was that they wanted to drive every day.

    Australia’s new 12-strong submarine fleet will cost taxpayers $225 billion, an estimates committee has been told. Rear Admiral Greg Sammut said there was an $80 billion build cost, which was originally touted by defence to be $50 billion.Nov 29, 2019

    Hydrogen subs from Germany would cost less than 15 billion dollars for 12 subs, not 225 billion.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_212_submarine

    The German Type 212 class, also Italian Todaro class,[7] is a diesel-electric submarine developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) for the German and Italian navies. It features diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) compressed hydrogen fuel cells. The submarines can operate at high speed on diesel power or switch to the AIP system for silent slow cruising, staying submerged for up to three weeks with little exhaust heat. The system is also said to be vibration-free, extremely quiet and virtually undetectable.

    Type 212 is the first fuel cell propulsion system equipped submarine series.

    Air-independent propulsion

    U32
    Although hydrogen–oxygen propulsion had been considered for submarines as early as World War I, the concept was not very successful until recently due to fire and explosion concerns. In the Type 212 this has been countered by storing the fuel and oxidizer in tanks outside the crew space, between the pressure hull and outer light hull. The gases are piped through the pressure hull to the fuel cells as needed to generate electricity, but at any given time there is only a very small amount of gas present in the crew space.

    Displacement: 1,450 tonnes surfaced, 1,830 tonnes submerged
    Length: 56 m (183.7 ft), 57.2 m (187.66 ft) (2nd batch)
    Beam: 7 m (22.96 ft)
    Draft: 6 m (19.68 ft)
    Propulsion:
    1 MTU 16V 396 diesel-engine[2]
    9 HDW/Siemens PEM fuel cells, 30–40 kW each (U31)
    2 HDW/Siemens PEM fuel cells 120 kW (U32, U33, U34)
    1 Siemens Permasyn electric motor 1700 kW, driving a single seven-bladed skewback propeller
    Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h) submerged, 12 knots surfaced[4]
    Depth: over 700 m (2,300 ft)[5]
    Range:
    8,000 nautical miles (14,800 km, or 9,196 miles) at 8 knots (15 km/h)
    Endurance: 3 weeks without snorkeling, 12 weeks overall

  40. duncanm

    Meh. Hydrogen fuel cells.

    Probably great in that application, and not elsewhere.

  41. Eyrie

    So the “green” hydrogen produces nasty chlorine gas when salty water is electrolysed. That should go down a treat.

  42. Dr Faustus

    Electrons to Green hydrogen is an essential plank of the 100% renewables narrative – which is otherwise derailed by pesky technical issues of storage, viable aviation energy, and primary iron making.

    Economics and the practical issues of dealing with the tiny molecule are irrelevant and easily washed away with assumed technology S-curves. Just as long as renewable druids can point to something and call it ‘proven technology’ the game keeps going.

  43. Bruce of Newcastle

    So the “green” hydrogen produces nasty chlorine gas when salty water is electrolysed. That should go down a treat.

    There’s a bit of NaCl in tap water usually. Not enough to taste, but it’d concentrate up in the electrolyte over time. You wouldn’t get much Cl2, and anyway it would be in the O2 stream which is collected and either vented or used for something.

    Anyway they’d probably put the water through a couple of IX columns to deionize it. That wouldn’t be expensive to do.

    Nothing wrong with electrolysing water except the overpotential, which translates to energy losses. The overpotential seems to be about 0.25 V in classic industrial electrolysis plant, although maybe that’s been improved with better materials. That overpotential would represent a 0.25/(0.25+1.23) = 16.9% efficiency loss.

  44. duncanm

    Eyrie
    #3634725, posted on October 27, 2020 at 4:18 pm
    So the “green” hydrogen produces nasty chlorine gas when salty water is electrolysed. That should go down a treat.

    Eyrie – you miss the point.

    All these favourite technologies: solar cells, batteries, windmills, hydrogen are ‘feel good’. The visible outputs give everyone the warm and fuzzies, but none of the downsides are ever examined in any depth.

    Hydrogen is good because its only waste from combustion is water. Ignore all those other minor details.

    Solar cell toxic waste, cobalt shortages and Congo mining, noise and animal impacts, generation of H2.

    Its like buying the GM free coffee beans from the local hipster market without knowing they were picked by child slaves in Ecuador.

  45. duncanm

    The only redeeming feature of the push for hydrogen – and its slim, I admit – is that first gen will most likely used H2 generated from debill debill gas by steam regeneration or maybe the Kværner process.

  46. Rex Anger

    @ Nuthink-

    The only issue with the Type 212 is that it is a short-ranged coastal boat.

    To make it work in Australian conditions, you would need to stretch the thing out to increase.fuel bunker size. This in turn requires bigger motors, AIP systems more weight, etc.

    The only practical solution is a DE boat designed from the ground up, or a nuclear one.

    Neither of which the Australian Government (or RAN’s procurement people) wanted to seriously consider.

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