The following was sent to me by a contact with the “knowledge, skills sets and experience to highlight the fallacies of pushing the green hydrogen agenda” and it’s related to the concepts of my prior articles about “energy storage”. NB: the knowledge he displays in the following are beyond the scope of yours truly!
Text from the contact!
Converting “excess” electrical generation by electrolysers (e.g. as built by Hydrogen Optimized in Owen Sound), will permit wind generators (like Enbridge, K2 Wind, etc.) to operate at maximum possible output even when the electrical demand is low (like at night), so that the proponents (like Enbridge at their “Power to Gas” pilot plant in Markham, or Calsun at their proposed plant at the former Bluewater Youth Detention Centre) can make BIG money producing “green” hydrogen, thereby ensuring lots of Government (i.e taxpayer) support.
The wind generators (like Enbridge) will be able to be paid full price for their power, approximately $135 a MWh or so, instead of the somewhat reduced rate paid for curtailed power. However, they will be able to buy the surplus at about $0 to $10 a MWh, to produce hydrogen, to add to their distribution system, so when electrical demand is high, they can sell it to natural gas generators to produce power to sell at maybe $200 a MWh. Yes, they certainly win.
The consumer, well, let’s see. We’ll pay $135 for the bought wind power, sell it for $10, and then buy it again at $200, so the consumer cost is maybe $125 + $ 200 = $325 a MWh. (About 4 x the price paid for nuclear generated power in Ontario). The more surplus we create, the more we’ll be able to sell at low price, and buy back at high price, so the cost for us will go up even more.
Winners = Enbridge, Hydrogen Optimized, Carlsun, and the Government policy hacks who want a hydrogen economy.
Losers = those who live near wind farms (present and future, as there will be more justified), the electrical consumers, and taxpayers.
You can do a google search for Forbes March, 29, 2022 for their article, “Gas Utilities are Promoting Hydrogen, but it could be a dead end for consumers and the climate.” Admittedly it is a biased article (every writer has their agenda) and in this case the writer’s agenda is that full electrification of the economy is better for the environment than burning natural gas.
Some highlights from the article, and the logical extension from them:
- 26 projects to add hydrogen to natural gas lines have been proposed across 12 states since 2020 (so, nearly everybody is doing it!).
- BUT, the blend can only be from 5% to 20% hydrogen in the natural gas lines (elsewhere I read 7% max) as consumer appliances can only safely burn a blend up to that concentration.
- It’s not clear what adding hydrogen to the natural gas lines at the Bluewater Detention Centre will mean to % hydrogen in the lines locally, but the amount added will probably not be huge.
- Burning hydrogen (H2) produces less energy than natural gas (methane, or CH4) so a 20% blend would reduce greenhouse gas emissions only 6% to 7% as you lose energy in electrolysis.
- price of green hydrogen will raise price of the blended fuel 2 to 4X above standard natural gas (good for Enbridge, bad for the consumer).
- burning hydrogen produces water vapour (H2O), a more potent green house gas than CO2, but its residency in the atmosphere is less than CO2, so it is considered to have less impact. Burning methane (CH4) produces CO2, H2O, and nitrous oxide NOX. The results are complicated by the fact that methane (natural gas) leaks have an effect some 80X higher than CO2, but it has a less residency time in the atmosphere, so the overall result is considered to be only 25X as much. NOX has a higher impact yet. Let’s just say the overall impact of burning H2 is not zero, but it’s probably slightly better than burning CH4.
So is it realistic to consider we’ll have much impact on the environment by producing “green hydrogen”?
in 2020 Ontario’s energy usage was: (figures from Canada Energy Regulator – Provincial Energy Profile), converting all data to Peta Joules for equivalency comparison).
- 1435 Peta Joules from refined petroleum (gasoline and diesel mostly)
- 935 Peta Joules from natural gas
- 514 Peta Joules from electricity (58% nuclear, 24% hydro, 9% gas, 8% wind, <1% solar, < 1% biofuel)
- 37 Peta Joules from biofuels (wood mostly)
- 127 Peta Joules from other fuels (like coal & coke)
From the above, we see that in 2020, less than 1.5% of Ontario’s total energy consumption came from wind and solar. It gives a rough idea of the feasibility of moving all of Ontario “off oil and gas” to all “renewable sourced electricity” by 2050.
So, if we could convert 5% of the natural gas in the distribution system to hydrogen, that would be about 47 Peta Joules, or if we assume 15% loss in the conversion, needing 54 Peta Joules of electricity (more than 1/3 of the total electricity produced). Let’s just say that’s unlikely.
In passing, let’s just say the probability of converting all new vehicles bought in Canada by 2035 to electrical vehicles, or vehicles powered by hydrogen, to convert that 1435 Peta Joules that come from petrochemicals of gas and oil as called for by federal law is … well remote. Does anyone ever consider these things before passing laws? Does not appear so!
The Globe and Mail published an interesting article (attached below) Nov. 25, 2022, noting,“that while 72% of all new cars in Norway are electric vehicles, oil consumption in the country hasn’t changed.”
That should be enough numbers to set your heads spinning. Apologies, but every now and then a dose of reality is needed.
Let’s conclude that the governments are all “hell bent” on producing hydrogen and keep telling us it will make a BIG difference in climate change. Unh- unh, T’ain’t; gonna happen, but what WILL happen is that costs for consumers will go up drastically, the results will be minimal, and certain investors will become VERY rich.”