It seems like nearly every day another hopeful article touts the potential of using hydrogen as a fuel to tackle climate change. What’s known as “green hydrogen” — which relies on renewable power for production — is getting the bulk of that attention.
In December, ABC News ran an article with the headline “Why green hydrogen is the renewable energy source to watch in 2021.” And as Bloomberg has reported, Airbus is betting big on hydrogen as a fuel for its planes. Meanwhile, South Korea’s SK Global just announced an investment in U.S. hydrogen fuel cell producer Plug Power; in the past year, the company’s stock value has increased ten-fold.
But among those most hopeful for the future hydrogen economy is the fossil fuel industry and its allies. The Hydrogen Council — a leading lobbying group whose members include major oil and car companies — predicts that hydrogen will account for 18 percent of total energy demand by 2050. And as DeSmog recently reported, a major PR firm for the fossil fuel industry is behind a big push for hydrogen in Europe.
However, right now the majority of hydrogen actually is produced from fossil fuels: namely, methane (natural gas) and coal.
Analysis shows that hydrogen is also currently inefficient and cost-prohibitive when compared to the approach to decarbonize the economy known as the electrification of everything, which would involve switching the majority of transportation and heating from burning fossil fuels to electricity produced increasingly by renewables.
All of this hydrogen hype raises a lot of questions. So, from “what is hydrogen energy” to “can we believe all the hype,” DeSmog takes a critical look at the burgeoning new fuel — and debunks some of the myths surrounding it.