i63: Insist on green hydrogen, and reserve it for industrial use

3 supporter
There is a proposal to use hydrogen for home heating, but I think this means investing in the wrong things for a net zero carbon future. 

Hydrogen can be made either from fossil fuels (grey hydrogen), or with the CO2 captured and stored (blue hydrogen), or by a completely different process (green hydrogen) that only uses water and renewable energy and produces no CO2.

Some industries, such as steel, cement and glass production, currently use fossil fuels to create huge amounts of heat and to create chemical changes that are needed to make these materials. Even in a net zero world, we will need steel, cement and glass, though, essentially, much less, as we find further 'circular economy' ways to reuse waste materials, and build in less wasteful ways. 

If we commit to using hydrogen from fossil fuels, these will still need to be dug up. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is not available yet at the scale needed, so we'll end up using grey hydrogen - lots and lots of it would be needed to heat every home and replace gas boilers. Building CCS will also take loads of steel and cement and energy - all creating more CO2 - it has been shown that this is not a sustainable option for heating homes.

Let's focus instead on investing in green hydrogen, made from spare night time electricity (from offshore wind - the wind blows at night too). This is being developed in Humberside by a Sheffield company called ITM Power. The green hydrogen can be used for critical industrial processes and for industrial heat, replacing fossil gas and coal. Glass-making and steel-making are already finding ways to make the change to hydrogen. Green hydrogen can also be mixed with gas made from organic waste, and used to store energy for later use (an alternative to a battery).

We know how to build homes that use almost zero energy (Passive Houses) and this knowledge can also be applied to retrofitting the draughty old homes we have been putting up with for too long (EnergieSprong approach). No other country builds such bad houses as the UK still does, I think - we have always relied on cheap coal, then gas, to heat our leaky homes (and the sky above them). Of course, the gas industry disagrees with changing this!


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