Crash Testing Hydrogen

The COP21 Paris Agreement to limit carbon emissions to stay below 2.0oC global warming by the end of the century. The worsening climate change extremes have brought attention to the fact that emissions have increased 2-3% per year since the 2015 agreement was signed. The oil supply decline from COVID19 restricted travel has caused shocks through the oil production sector. 

In this environment of intensifying risk and uncertainty, the urgency for turning the corner and reducing fossil fuelled emissions growth has led to a resurgence in policies to support technology wedges. A technology wedge is an uptake of a technology that results in lower emissions without changing behaviour patterns. 

Hydrogen has been announced as a potential solution to carbon emissions reduction by many governments. The promise of electrolysis to produce hydrogen from renewably generated electricity has gained much attention. Thus, here we crash test three of the more common technology wedges around hydrogen. 

  • Build "excess" wind power and produce hydrogen through electrolysis, compress and store hydrogen gas, then produce electricity using a fuel cell on a dispatch basis to meet loads on the grid. 
  • Build "excess" wind power, produce hydrogen, compress and store and use for hydrogen cars.
  • Build "excess" wind power, produce hydrogen, compress and transport by existing gas pipeline to provide space heat in boilers. 

Johann Land and Susan Krumdieck present the "development vector" analysis to crash test the hydrogen techno wedge. 

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