In a new letter to Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, environmental groups including E3G, WWF and Greenpeace have urged the government to drop funding for “blue” hydrogen.
Produced by splitting natural gas at high temperatures, blue hydrogen is much better for the environment than natural gas because, while the process does produce carbon emissions, these can be captured by a chemical solvent and stored.
So, if the CO2 is captured, what’s the problem?
During the fracking process for the natural gas to produce hydrogen, methane (a huge contributor to climate change) is leaked into the atmosphere. What’s more, emissions are also produced in the exploration for gas and the transport.
While the carbon capture technology has been touted for decades as a ‘planetary saviour’, many environmentalists don’t hold out hope because it’s still not locking up CO2 at the large scales that will be required.
What about “green” hydrogen?
Green hydrogen involves splitting water through electrolysis. This process produces hydrogen and oxygen, where the former can be used, and the latter vented into the atmosphere with no negative impact. It’s completely environmentally friendly because, although electrolysis requires electricity, this can be entirely powered by renewable energy sources such as wind or solar.
Despite producing genuinely clean hydrogen, the process is expensive and inefficient, so experts believe that it should only be used to fuel industrial processes that require huge amounts of heat – rather than homes.
Heat pumps – the “better” option
The environmental groups have warned that embracing blue hydrogen heating will lock fossil fuels into the UK’s energy mix, making it incompatible with reaching the nation’s net-zero carbon target by 2050. They ask why consumers should face the extra cost of hydrogen-ready boilers when the Climate Change Committee has projected that only 11% of homes will eventually run on it.
Instead, these groups are urging the government to not be “clouded by hype” and to look towards heat pumps as a more effective and energy efficient heating source for UK homes.
At Freedom Heat Pumps, we believe that heat pumps are the future. For every 1kWh of energy input required to power a heat pump, it can deliver more than 5 kWh in thermal energy output. That’s a huge energy efficiency ratio of more than 500%! Combining efficiencies with significant cost savings through reduced energy bills and government subsidies/tax refunds, heat pumps truly in are a class of their own.
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