Hydrogen, the Fuel of the Future?
Some say “Yes,” some say “No,” some say “Maybe so.”
From Sustainable Circular Economy, we bring you our thoughts on the impacts of Hydrogen and climate change.
Some say Hydrogen is the fuel of the future that will soon power large parts of our economies. Others say it's just a hoax propagated by the oil and gas industry. But either way, everyone in the energy world is talking about hydrogen. Can it really help us get to net zero?
Politicians would have us believe it is the fuel of the future. Not long ago, we had Prime Minister Trudeau with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirming an agreement where a Newfoundland-based company plans to build a zero-emission plant using wind energy to produce hydrogen and ammonia for export.
This could be the first plant of its kind in Canada to produce “Green Hydrogen” a vast environmental step up from producing and using Grey or Blue Hydrogen.
What, Hydrogen comes in Colours?
Not really, but the colours are used to identify the environmental cleanliness of the hydrogen production process.
Grey Hydrogen - Currently, this is the most common form of hydrogen production. Grey hydrogen is created from natural gas, or methane, using steam methane reformation but without capturing the greenhouse gases made in the process.
Blue Hydrogen - Blue hydrogen is an industry term for hydrogen produced from natural gas and supported by carbon capture and storage.
An example of this would be the Shell Quest Hydrogen Project in Alberta which is supposed to capture 35% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions for storage underground. What happens to the other 65%? Poof, it disappears into the atmosphere.
Green Hydrogen - Green hydrogen is generated by renewable energy or from low-carbon power. Green hydrogen has significantly lower carbon emissions than grey hydrogen.
Shell Canada Energy Quest Project
The Shell Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) consists of the Shell Albion Sands mining and operations, extracting bitumen and converting this to fossil fuels.
Extracting bitumen requires more energy than the production of lighter forms of crude oil, and carbon capture storage was introduced by Shell to “green the project,” where they received an $865 million subsidy to construct the project somewhere between 67% – 107% of the project cost.
The project was proposed on the basis that it would capture and permanently store more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year - one-third of the emissions.
So, capture 1 million tonnes and still release 1.85 million tons. Does that sound like a solid green project? But that is what Shell proposed and the Canadian and Alberta governments agreed to – at a capital cost of $34.60 per tonne over 25 years and still releasing 46.25 million tonnes.
All I can say is, “it seems a bit expensive, but maybe it is a start?”
What’s the Plan?
Is the plan to do this right, or is the plan to “pull the wool over our eyes” so the oil industry can keep on its very profitable path of supplying us with the fossil fuels we want and – sorry folks – need to keep our economies, our standard of living and our lives living.
In the past 300,000 years or so, we have transitioned through various fuels which have all been more efficient, less costly and allowed us to create the standard of living we have today. Yes, 300,000 years. Change does not happen overnight. It evolves and my suggestion is we need to stop throwing paint and sticky stuff on priceless artifacts, and work together to do the world a world of good. And we need the truth and consequence from our government.
Transitioning Away from Fossil Fuels
It all began with a wood fire. Our long-ago ancestors discovered fire could ward off predators, keep them warm, and cook their food. Then there was coal that emerged in the 16th and 17th centuries, followed by the fossil fuel-powered industrial revolution. This transformed the whole world, giving us 300 years of unprecedented material growth.
The obvious solution? Replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. We cannot just turn back the “hands of time,” but we can draw on the experiences of the 16th and 17th centuries and reverse the process.
“We have a profound understanding of the world around us, and the engineering capability to transform it in record time. And in the last 50 years, scientists and engineers have even developed the technologies we need to power the world with renewable energy: wind turbines and solar panels, the modern equivalents of the leaves of trees, to produce energy; batteries, hydrogen, and compressed air plants, the modern equivalents of the trunks of trees that store energy; and computer-controlled transmission lines—the modern equivalents of foresters and wagoners—to control the supply.”
Can We Do This?
Personally, I believe we can. Not overnight, but it can be done. There are huge cost factors, there are huge decisions to be made to consider the people, the planet and sustainability – and we need to stop the knee jerk political actions. Our government has not hit one target and has spent a lot of our children’s, children’s money on the politics of all their actions.
That sort of tells me government does not have a real plan but lots of spin doctoring – like giving us the wrong diagnosis or lying to us when all we need and want is the truth and consequence.
If you want to read about truth and consequence, a great book on this subject has been penned by Terry Etam, titled “The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity – Clearing the Air Before Clearing the Air,” and available on Amazon.ca by Clicking Here.
Who are We?
Sustainable Circular Economy is a boutique firm in Vancouver Canada. We work passionately to help businesses and communities do the world a world of good by sorting through the morass of issues of environmental sustainability, and helping with considerations of what is good for the people and the planet. If you would like some help, please give us a call. We are always available to help.
Please note, I do not make any fees from the book sales. Anything I can do to help us do something that took the last transition 300 years, is payment enough.