Report raises serious concerns about hydrogen

Scottish FOE/Barry White

A Scottish environmental campaign group has raised serious concerns about the Scottish governments use of hydrogen technologies after a new report exposed their inefficiencies, soaring costs and the threat posed to renewable energy supplies. The report, ‘Hydrogen’s role in Scotland’s climate journey’, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Scotland found that 98% of global hydrogen production is from fossil fuels, see:

The report says that fossil fuel-derived ‘blue’ hydrogen is made using carbon capture and storage (CCS) but this technology was revealed to only be 60% effective, meaning huge amounts of climate changing pollution is released, critically undermining the key argument made by its proponents. Blue hydrogen is dependent on CCS technology that is in its infancy in Europe and has repeatedly failed to get off the ground in the UK.

The research also showed that ‘green’ hydrogen, whilst lower carbon than fossil fuel derived hydrogen, has serious drawbacks such as the enormous levels of renewable energy required to produce it. If Scotland’s 2030 target was to be met by green hydrogen, it would require 80% of the country’s entire renewable energy supply – enough electricity for over 6 million homes.

Using hydrogen for heating our homes was found to be more expensive and less efficient than direct electrification through technologies like heat pumps. Similarly, powering transport with renewable energy directly is already much more efficient, cheaper, and more advanced commercially than deploying hydrogen in transport.

Friends of the Earth Scotland is now calling on the Scottish Government to end further public funding to hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, and to prioritise electrification over hydrogen in crucial areas such as heating and transport.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Climate Campaigner Alex Lee said:

“This research must change the conversation around the role of hydrogen in Scotland’s climate efforts. The evidence clearly shows that hydrogen is either made from climate-wrecking fossil fuels or it becomes a huge drain on renewable energy supplies.

“The Scottish Government must end their support for the development of hydrogen from fossil fuels, which will only produce yet more climate pollution and give fossil fuel companies a chance to greenwash their image whilst they keep drilling new fields in the North Sea.

“Hydrogen from renewables is a high cost, low efficiency solution to our energy needs and the Scottish Government must urgently rethink their plans for its expansion. Whether it is in heating or transport, support for hydrogen looks like a losing bet when compared to direct electrification through technology like heat pumps and electric buses.

“By prioritising electrification over green hydrogen, the Scottish Government can better protect households from high costs and ensure renewables can clean up our energy system.”

Additional background:

An executive summary of the report may be found at:

Scottish Government’s climate plan in jeopardy as officials admit flaw due to over reliance on ‘negative emissions technology’ – Sunday 26 June 2022

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