back to article Brit MPs pour cold water on hydrogen as mass replacement for fossil fuels

Hydrogen is not likely to be practically and economically viable for mass use in the short and medium term for heating homes or fueling passenger cars, a report from UK Members of Parliament has concluded. The universe's most abundant element has been mooted as a green alternative to fossil fuels, but the associated cost, …

  1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

    Greens are delighted because to them the environment is just an excuse to reduce our living standards.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      It's more to do with the WEF agenda of asset stripping that is required for the Great Reset.

      When it comes to energy WEF and Russia have their goals aligned - Russia is sponsoring various eco groups, including anti-fracking to ensure that we are not energy independent and one way or another we will have to buy fossil fuels from other countries, which in turn increases price when more and more countries shut down their domestic production.

      On one hand expensive energy accelerates asset stripping that WEF needs.

      On another expensive energy makes more money for Russia and funds their terrorist goals.

      It's a shame the Greens don't see themselves as pawns for billionaire interests, but I guess pecunia non olet and they can chase that high of "fighting for the planet".

      1. Henry Hallan
        Facepalm

        The WEF tinfoil-hattery is about equivalent to passengers hearing the captain giving the order to abandon ship and concluding it's a plot to steal their luggage.

        The ship really is sinking, whatever your comforting conspiracy theories say.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          You are living in denial. You have not noticed we are experiencing the biggest wealth transfer in generations? The so called "cost of living crisis" as propagandists are framing it? Or the fact that Russia is sponsoring eco groups is a "conspiracy" too?

          You are also denying the fact that WEF has penetrated Western governments and things like Digital ID, CBDC, variations of Online Safety Bills - crucial for social credit score are not in the works?

          Materials on weforum.org are also a fantasy I presume?

          LOL

          1. Henry Hallan
            Pirate

            I am fully aware of the rise of the modern-day robber baron. The purpose of your conspiracy theories is to deflect attention away from them. When one of those robber barons is elected leader it is because people are too distracted by what they are fed by churches, social media and the like to recognize the real enemy.

            Climate change denial is exactly the same mechanism as denied the health effects of smoking for years, and for the same reasons. It's about the money.

            The WEF blueprint is quite literally a plan for rescuing people when the effects of climate change have come. It's really about lifeboats. Their PR is terrible - unlike the robber barons - but that is all they are trying to do. The big failure of the Right is to offer any alternative beyond denialism.

            And you won't scare me with insects in the food chain. I am a beekeeper!

            1. Adair Silver badge

              '...what they are fed by churches...'

              As a member of 'the church' I need to take issue with your sweeping and almost certainly largely unfounded assertion.

              Let's start with a bit of category analysis.

              Is it:

              a. all churches

              b. most churches

              c. some churches

              d. a few churches?

              As far as I am aware any 'church' worthy of the name of Jesus (called 'the Christ') is highly unlikely to support the wilful destruction of 'Creation', and is very likely to be encouraging its members to take seriously the call to 'love their neighbours' and to 'care for the world they are part of and depend on'.

              Granted, not all 'churches' take this line, and some I would really question whether they have any realistic understanding of what it means to 'love their neighbour' in the light of the example of the person they claim to follow, but there we go, human beings will twist anything to suit their own selfish agendas and to feed the fears that give them power over others. We don't need to look to 'the church' to see that 'sinful' reality in action, we're talking about 'human beings' here. Look at the state we're in, and have been in as far back as we care to look.

              1. Henry Hallan
                IT Angle

                "Granted, not all 'churches' take this line, and some I would really question whether they have any realistic understanding of what it means to 'love their neighbour' in the light of the example of the person they claim to follow, but there we go, human beings will twist anything to suit their own selfish agendas and to feed the fears that give them power over others."

                Agreed.

              2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
                Thumb Down

                Look at the state we're in, and have been in as far back as we care to look.

                And disputes between churches are probably the single biggest cause. It's the 21st century, way past time to move on from medieval superstation about which supernatural entity is best, and how to kill the most people who disagree.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  The thing about scientific aetheism, is that it doesn't direct a course of action. There are no commandments. Adultery and rape are a couple of a number of useful reproductive strategies.

                  Science tells us that the planet is warming, and our descendants will soon all be steamed dumplings or wonton soup.

                  It does not in any way say that there is some reason we shouldn't just carry on, since it won't be me. It is simply a scientific fact. We are not destroying God's creation, and we don't have any moral responsibility to anyone or anything.

                  If you feel like doing something about it, well, that's nice, but if you don't that's fine too - we just told you what would happen.

                  Sadly a large part of our moral and legal and social infrastructure is built on underpinnings of religion and religious thought. Science can explain religion in utilitarian terms, and it can also tell us some of the likely downsides of abandoning something that humanity has found expedient for millennia.

                  A casual look at current society would suggest they might be correct.

                  1. jemmyww

                    Yeah because religions have been the leading light on environmental issues... oh wait.

                    People are people and they behave the same inside or outside a religious framework. Turns out we made up religions, so the morals they eschew are just our cultural morals.

                    I couldn't find any good stats on adultery except that divorces due to it have been falling quite significantly. I doubt infedelity itself is changing, I recall some stats from years ago showing that it was remarkably consistent across cultures and religions.

                    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                      "I recall some stats from years ago showing that it was remarkably consistent across cultures and religions."

                      The concept of marriage is a construct instituted by people for various reasons which means that adultery is a byproduct of that construct. If a couple isn't matched sexually, one partner may tend to stray from the contract. Even if they are matched, the urge to produce children through different pairings isn't unnatural. Sex is a primal urge and not rational which will mean that whatever rules we try to wrap around it, it will always be what it is.

                  2. Adair Silver badge

                    To put it simply: 'science' is about an empirical analysis of material reality.

                    You are right 'science' doesn't tell us what human beings should do, or why, it simply offers raw information about reality---as far as we are able to perceive it with the tools at our disposal.

                    Anyone presuming that 'science' answers 'How should I live?' is giving 'science' a status and role it is incapable of fulfilling, but it can certainly make a contribution within the limits of its scope, e.g. having accurate data about climate change and its causes is massively useful. What people decide to do about climate change will not be solely determined by such data.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      "having accurate data about climate change and its causes is massively useful. "

                      It would, yes. If we had any. Something called theory, an equation and accurate predictions based on theory, calculated by the equation. You know, the *science* stuff. None of it exists and none of the predictions have been right, since 1990s. Someone might call whole *explanation* BS and it would be really difficult to argue otherwise. So: A cult.

                      Numerical model is literally no more than an extrapolation from selected starting point. IPCC uses 1980, coldest year in 1900s as "normal". You don't wonder why? I would.

                      You don't wonder why the 'hockey stick curve' disappeared when it was proven BS, but everything else related to it (ie. politics of "global warming") remained the same? I do.

                      You don't even wonder why IPCC had to rename "global warming" to "change" when *global* warming didn't actually happen? I do.

                      Average may have risen, but that's up to NASA with their 'correction factors', so no-one really knows: NASA doesn't publish raw data and they've ~50% of measuring points, by satellites. 'Global average' is basically whatever NASA says it is. A fact most people (like you) don't realize.

                      Funny NASA just got several billions of funding, a surprise to all. Ever wondered why that happened? I do.

                      And here in North we have frozen sea before Yule, first time since 1980s. 20 years ago it (sea water) was still +5C at this time of year. Climate has really changed,at least locally. Just not the way climatologists say. Funny that.

                      I see an competition between climatologists: Which of them manages to go furthest from the reality, just because it pays well? Because *all of them* are paid well, to preach to the choir: "CO2" taxes are hundreds of billions free money yearly to politicians. Who fund the right kind of climatologists with it. Funny that.

                      We do know that the wrong kind of climatologists were burnt at stake already in late 1990s. That wasn't even funny: A church butchering heretics, literally. As far from science as you can get.

                      Always, *always* follow the money. That squared when politicians (including the UN) are involved.

                      In science even theories are ditched when they don't match reality. Obviously in climatology that doesn't happen, they just change the model (but not the assumptions it was built on): A weather forecast, by other words. And you already know how correct weather forecasts are.

                  3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

                    --Adultery and rape are a couple of a number of useful reproductive strategies.--

                    That may have been true once but not so mush these days with access to abortion services.

                    -- Science tells us that the planet is warming, and our descendants will soon all be steamed dumplings or wonton soup. --

                    Science does not tell us that its computer models produced by "climate scientists" whose income depend on them telling us just that.

                    1. Danny 14

                      "That may have been true once but not so mush these days with access to abortion services"

                      Not in most 3rd world countries and chunks of the US.

            2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

              Climate change is happening, and has been happening for as long as the planet has been here. The problem I have is the rabid belief in computer models forecasting a) its all our fault and b) it'll be a couple of hundred years before we can be proven wrong.

              I am especially baffled that people who should know just how "good" computer models can be are convinced by them.

              1. skierpage

                Oh please. The greenhouse effect is real, the result of increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is additional warming. Scientists have known this for over 150 years. Climate computer models in the 1980s ACCURATELY predicted the increase in Earth's average temperature that we have undeniably observed; it is all the denialist clowns who said it's solar cycles/sunspots/volcanoes/aerosols/temporary who have been utterly wrong.

                I am baffled by people who think the scientific processes of a) refining climate models based on well-understood physics and b) finding all proposed explanations for the warming that don't assign it primarily to increased greenhouse gas concentrations faulty, somehow haven't occurred because of [insert vague conspiracy theory].

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  "The greenhouse effect is real, the result of increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is additional warming. Scientists have known this for over 150 years. "

                  And none of them has been able to prove any of it. "Knowing" and proving are two *very* different things. Only religions "know" things, science proves it. I see you as a preacher. Why?

                  I see you also try to avoid the problem of CO2 being *weak* greenhouse gas. *Very* weak, like <1% of what water vapour is. Which you don't say. Why?

                  "Climate computer models in the 1980s ACCURATELY predicted the increase in Earth's average temperature"

                  As relevant as claiming it will get warmer in 6 months time, here in North: Short term extrapolation of short term changes. Basically BS in numerical form as none of the models could predict that warming basically stopped about 2010 or so. Also: Every numerical model in 1990s was based on hockey stick curve and it was proven BS already in early 2000s.

                  "Computer model" is *not* science: It has no idea what will happen or why as it's literally an extrapolation based on a pile of selected numbers: "Continue the curve". No more, no less. Claiming otherwise is always a lie.

                  So every time someone claims they know *why* something happens because their model says so, they lie. "a model" has no idea of why. Only a formula has.

                  If they had a formula, proven correct, it would change the situation. They don't, despite trying *very hard* since 1990s. With billions and thousands of people. Something simple like T= k*(CO2 concentration), you choose the k.

                  Simple, provable and *actual science*. I've been waiting the value of k since IPCC invented whole thing in 1990s and so far they haven't found it. Someone might think there isn't one. Correlation between CO2 and global average definitely seems zero at yearly level and not significant even smoothed to decades level. Funny that. Who's lying?

                  But believers will always believe as *their* church would never lie to them, wouldn't they?

                  Instead of vague conspiracy theory we get government funded BS. I can almost believe the temperatures themselves but the reasons presented are obvious BS.

                  "refining climate models based on well-understood physics "

                  "model" isn't science in the first place. Nor physics: It's *just* a glorified excel-sheet where people play with numbers until they get a result they like. I should know, I've done numerical models. Now: Why do you *believe* otherwise? Because it's obvious you don't *know*.

                  Changing a model used to predict 50 years every 2 years is literal admission that the model is BS and can't predict 50 years. not even 2 years (as it needed to be changed). Either you predict the scope the model *is known to be right* (like engineers do) or you just use numerical model to lie. Also, numerical models used nowadays start from the idea that CO2 is the primary reason for temperature changes.

                  Which is obvious BS, there isn't enough CO2 for that. A fact which *is* well-understood physics. Except for the climatologists. Funny that.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  " it is all the denialist clowns who said it's solar cycles/sunspots/volcanoes/aerosols/temporary who have been utterly wrong."

                  Which doesn't mean CO2-clowns are right either. Because they haven't been a single time, ever. No theory, no proof. "numerical model" is *not* a theory. Even less proof.

                  *Only* a church would claim they are right while they have no idea what is going on and, because of that, can't prove anything. And you are a preacher of said church. Does it pay well?

                  "finding all proposed explanations for the warming that don't assign it primarily to increased greenhouse gas concentrations faulty,"

                  Unfortunately that is *also* faulty and patentable BS.

                  Why you use term "greenhouse gas" when you *mean* CO2, BTW? Intentional misdirection?

                  CO2 is irrelevant as *very weak* greenhouse gas. That's physics. Now, if you were talking about water vapour I might believe you. But you weren't talking about it.

          2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

            -- WEF has penetrated Western governments --

            OK I can guess that the W stands for Woke, I have the wrong accent for the E to be Ejot so I'll guess Entrenched, can't figure out the F though. Giz a clue

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "the Great Reset."

        What exactly is your definition of "the Great Reset"?

        I'd like to add it to the other four, mainly conflicting ones I've already collected. I'd really like to see just how many varying and conflicting versions there are.

    2. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      As noted elsewhere, it's less "The Greens" pushing for this than the oil and natural gas industry pushing it as "green" while in reality having a vested interest in something that ultimately entrenches their existing business and means of production/consumption.

      Then again, given you're spewing risible strawman shite like "Greens are delighted because to them the environment is just an excuse to reduce our living standards", I doubt you're arguing in good faith.

      1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

        Obvious troll is obvious... don't feed them. Getting a response is the highlight of their pathetic, basement dwelling sad little lives.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        re - "Greens are delighted because to them the environment is just an excuse to reduce our living standards"

        There are actually a minority of greens who reason thus - planet biodiversity and ecosystems can only be saved if humans produce less than 'X' footprint of whatever (carbon, land use, water use etc). It's unethical to cull humans to fall within that limit, therefore all humans alive have to consume less than 'X', leading automatically to a loss of living standard. There is a grain of truth in these essentially Malthusian arguments - they don't take into account any efficiency gains from new technologies, but on the other hand efficiency gains aren't infinite.

        At some point at least 1 of the 3 (human population, human standard of living, earth ecosystems) has got to give

        1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

          You can tell that greens are opposed to solutions because otherwise they would be in favour of nuclear.

          If you created an affordable carbon free petrol ( eg: from 100% biomass ), they would want it banned. For proof of this, they've already started on about the dust from the tyres on electric cars.

          IE: we still need to ban cars even if they are ran from windmills and happy thoughts.

          1. Adair Silver badge

            All Greens?

            Most Greens?

            Some Greens?

            A few Greens?

            Your statement reads like you just have an axe to grind against a shibboleth labelled 'Green'---a convenient scapegoat to beat on.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "It's unethical to cull humans to fall within that limit, therefore all humans alive have to consume less than 'X', leading automatically to a loss of living standard."

          Yeah, that's too bad as well that some humans can't be culled. In point of fact, we are doing the opposite as medical science improves by being able to keep newborns alive that are born with ever more serious deficiencies. It's a first world issue as those heroic procedures aren't available nor applied in the third world. Children with little chance of growing into healthy adults often won't see their first birthday.

          The only way for the majority of people to have a high standard of living is for there to be fewer people. It already takes an enormous amount of petroleum to feed the bee-swarm billions there are on the planet. As petroleum diminishes in easy to reach high-quality reserves, the supply will go down and the price will go up. I would find it kinder to encourage people to limit their family sizes and reduce world population that way than to have many more people starving to death every year.

      3. TheMeerkat

        Energy giants making good money on “green energy”.

    3. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Seriously, what is going on in your brain to come up with that kind of nonsense?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well done to the MPs of the science & technology committee seeing through the oil industry's bluster on this. They have been throwing every spare lobbying penny they've got trying to pitch hydrogen as the natural successor for natural gas, diesel, petrol and anything else they can put their claws into. Getting the government to commit to installing Hydrogen-ready boilers in homes has nothing to do with carbon impact and everything to do with ensuring homes keep installing still-gas-ready boilers and not heatpumps. Talking about green hydrogen is almost always a trojan horse to really talk about the 99.5% of hydrogen produced as a byproduct of gas production, and the gas- and oil-consuming industries that just happen to get to carry on for that little bit longer as a result.

    Hydrogen has a role. Short of large-scale carbon-neutral hydrocarbon manufacture becoming a thing it's the only practical, carbon-neutral bulk energy storage mechanism on the horizon. As such it's almost certain to be a key part of any energy storage strategy to smooth out peaks - wind this week has generated about 40-60% of the grid's needs, last week is was the sum total of fuck all. It's likely to play a role in those bits of the logistics network not amenable to lithium batteries. There's a good chance it ends up powering diggers and movers on job sites. Likewise for air travel and for shipping and for producing steel. But not homes and not cars.

    Even so there's a huge distance to go with Hydrogen. It's a bugger to store, practically none of it is "green" and nobody's going to start throwing their diesel engines in the bin until the whole system works well enough for commercial operators to trust the system end-to-end.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      That may be the case but the hard reality is that hydrogen is a lot more useful than and eventually more green that batteries,

      Modern batteries are a total video nasty that nobody is prepared to address. There is all sort of twaddle about recycling lithium batteries and how Tesla has the answer to everything. Recycling lithium batteries is really complicated to recover the various elements in a form that makes them reusable again as batteries in an economic way.

      Just saying that it will be solved in the future does not address the problem. Then there is the issue of obtaining the raw materials to make them in the first place.

      In most case, much like modern fossil fuel extraction, the nasty part occurs out of site of the bits of civilisation that consume the most.

      That takes us full circle, hydrogen may not be perfect but it is ultimately the best option we have. It is simply there are too many vested interested in other options.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Batteries aren't THE energy storage solution but part of it. Short of an efficient way of producing hydrocarbons from green energy (which is in itself a bit of a pipe dream), none of pumped storage, hydrogen or batteries by themselves is good enough to be a solution on it's own, but combining all of them might work. That's especially true if the early promise of Aluminium-ion and Aluminium-Graphene batteries can be realised in mass-production.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >That may be the case but the hard reality is that hydrogen is a lot more useful than and eventually more green that batteries

        I'm really sorry but this is just not true. Right now there is simply no such thing as "green" hydrogen. All hydrogen on the market today and for the foreseeable future has a massive carbon footprint. Nobody is doing electrolysis at scale, and if/when they do that "green" hydrogen will be 5x the current market price. Non-Green hydrogen has a carbon footprint worse than natural gas on a per-unit-energy basis.

        Looking specifically at vehicles it's important to understand there's no such thing as a "hydrogen vehicle". Hydrogen vehicles are only being discussed again now because of the advance of lithium EVs. Hydrogen fuel cell systems are of course very energy-dense (at least in absolute mass terms - volume is its own problem), but their power density is incredibly low. A hydrogen fuel cell simply cannot power a passenger vehicle. The cars being looked at today are using a Hydrogen FC as a range extender for a Lithium PEV.

        If you think lithium is a bad idea because of what you perceive as sustainability issues with the battery supply chain then H2 vehicles are even worse, because now you've got to add an expensive fuel cell and a H2 handling chain into the mix, and then keep it topped up with carbon-heavy H2 until such time someone decides to mass-market green hydrogen. And then you'll pay 3-5x the milage of someone just using their batteries directly. It's exactly the same factors that have killed off the future of petrol-lithium hybrids, just worse.

        For almost all use cases, in every single way, H2 is simply a worse choice than direct use of batteries. That's what this report says and it's exactly right.

        1. Danny 14

          there isnt a mass market for H2 hence green sources H2 isnt worth it. Once there is a market then countries with excess green electricity will start to look at cracking water as a money source. There are quite a few countries that could make money from H2 production but without the demand it isnt worth the infrastructure.

          FCEV is more than possible with current tech. https://wrightbus.com/en-gb/hydrogen-bus-streetdeck-hydrolinerFCEV there's one right there. 8 mins of hydrogen filling for 200 miles+ these are early days of course but still possible. Newer fuel cells are also being developed.

          EV arent bad but the charging times are horrific for mass transport. If entire cities converted all their ICE to EV then the grid would collapse in short order, those cities would brown out. H2 on the otherhand would not, people would go to filling stations, the same as ICE.

          1. Col_Panek

            Yep, all we need is dirt cheap hydrogen and free compressors. Maybe build a pipeline to the sun, and cool it passing through space on the way. All the other ways are energy intensive, but when free fusion power is perfected next year, it will be OK.

            Meanwhile, we'll drive battery powered cars.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "EV arent bad but the charging times are horrific for mass transport."

            If by mass transit you mean busses, city busses travel known routes and take a break multiple times per day. They are also big vehicles with room for plenty of batteries of a type that can recharge very quickly in exchange for being less energy dense.

            "If entire cities converted all their ICE to EV then the grid would collapse in short order, those cities would brown out."

            Most EV owners do their charging at night when both demand and prices are low. The claim of the grid not being able to handle the load is piffle. It's actually a boon for electrical utilities as they have massive amounts of unused capacity at night that they'd love to continue making money with. If the wind is blowing in the wee hours, they have to shut that off since it can unbalance the network. If they could signal EV's that there's a sale on leccy, they'd have a place to stuff all of those magic pixies rather than denying their creation.

            " H2 on the otherhand would not, people would go to filling stations, the same as ICE."

            Now you need yet another distribution network for a very hard to contain gas. CH4 already leaks all over the place and that infrastructure would be hopeless for H2. A huge benefit of having an EV is never having to visit a filling station and having a full "tank" each morning if you like.

          3. skierpage

            If the grid is going to collapse from people charging EVs, then it will be in even worse shape if 2.5x as much electricity is going through the inefficient detour of hydrogen. In reality, most car owners and fleets will mostly recharge when electricity is cheap because it's plentiful. Fuel cells for passenger vehicles are DEAD, with no new cars announced for production since the second-generation Toyota Mirai in 2019. Buses and trucks are heading the same way, with far more investment, model annoucements, and sales of battery versions than HFC.

            If electricity suppliers can't make good money meeting a new demand for their product when wind and solar are the cheapest new generation and are an ideal fit for variable demands like recharging, that is an abject failure of them and their regulators.

            There's no more efficient or sustainable way to move things than renewable electricity -> recyclable battery -> motor. The only reasonable objection to EVs is to advocate for less 2-ton cars.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "There's no more efficient or sustainable way to move things than renewable electricity -> recyclable battery -> motor."

              Except almost everything else as those things don't exist (except motor) and won't exist in foreseeable future. Making solar cells or batteries is nasty, nasty stuff.

              "if we had free electricity, on site, we wouldn't have any problems" -level of ideology. Won't happen.

        2. Someone Else Silver badge

          Yeah, and these newfangled "transistor" thingies will never replaces vacuum tubes!

          Wait...what?

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Modern batteries are a total video nasty that nobody is prepared to address. "

        You don't see the companies that are addressing it as EV's have barely been around long enough for their batteries to need recycling. The Tesla Model S was released in 2012 and it's only in the last 5 years that sales have started to increase.

        Take a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpe8HalVXFU

        You may also want to look through Helen's other episodes as she's the one with the science cred in the group.

      4. Someone Else Silver badge
        Coat

        Hey! Maybe we can burn old lithium batteries (old, damaged ones like to catch fire anyway) and use them to turn generators to create electricity!

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      As far as I'm aware a number of solutions are in progress to improve hydrogen storage in a manner that reduces any chance of them becoming mini Hindenburgs in their own right (although, from a BOFH perspective it could work as a mildly more aggressive anti-smoking campaign, of course)*. The most promising one I've seen converts it into a solid, but there is, ironically, an ever better way to use hydrogen once we produce electricity from non-fossil sources: turning it back into fuel by processing it with reclaimed CO2, a process also researched by many as it allows us to keep the existing infrastructure going - still cheaper and more CO2 friendly than starting anew.

      The research for that has been promising, but the process is stifled by the need for added energy that has to come from somewhere, so still a tad chicken and egg. The newer Thorium reactors seem to offer an answer there, as their operating temperature is around the 700ºC mark (which, for those watching at home, is roughly in the middle between gasmark 41 and 42), but we don't have any local reactors in production yet to start experimenting with this. It is worth observing that a decent conversion to H2 would also act as a means to store excessive energy which then offers an option to transport and deploy it elsewhere, something that's a tad harder to do with a storage lake or a field of batteries.

      For the moment I think we're thus stuck with electric and all the associated challenges (no, not the Chief Twit - plenty of other options available). Hydrogen can also drive a fuel cell to again power an electric drive train so that's maybe another option once the storage issue has been worked out.

      I for one am glad that we're developing a lot of options, but I am as yet not convinced we have arrived at a point where we should already pick a winner. There's still too much going on, and our future may actually lie in a mix of solutions.

      * I'm kidding here - we got *much* better at this but H2 is simply a swine to store, it takes a LOT of effort

      1. Danny 14

        storage really isnt an issue. H2 isnt any more dangerous than LPG, petrol or kerosene. Ironically a slow leak will be safer with H2 than LPG, doesnt produce toxic smoke, isnt as "hot" as a gas flame. There are benefits.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "H2 isnt any more dangerous than LPG"

          Really? What kind of mushrooms you did eat for breakfast?

          Not only it explodes in very large scale of concentrations, it's nigh impossible to store anywhere as it leaks through steel. A lot.

          Said leaking also makes steel very brittle and then the storage tank eventually explodes because of the pressure in it. Really safe, yeah.

      2. skierpage

        Industry already uses 70 million tonnes of hydrogen annually, 95+% made from dirty fossil fuels (coal in China, unnatural gas in the West). Switching that to green H2 is essential, but will need 400 GW of electrolyzers and a terawatt of additional renewal electricity. That will take a decade. And most H2 users aren't interested beyond greenwashing trials, because green H2 is much more expensive. (No, "keeping existing infrastructure going" with expensive H2 and more expensive synthetic e-fuels is in most cases not cheaper than starting anew.)

        Fossil fuel companies know all this, so they promote new dubious uses for hydrogen because they _KNOW_ it will only increase demand for their dirty stuff for years. The UK committee is correctly seeing through this and saying hydrogen is a dumb idea for transportation (BEVs indeed have an unassailable lead), for appliances (electrify them instead), and for heating (use heat pumps instead). This is not "picking winners," it's telling fossil fuel companies to f*** off with their attempts to make dumb ideas favorable to them part of energy policy.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    "...aviation could also benefit from hydrogen..." once everybody has forgotten about the Hindenberg ;-)

    1. LogicGate Silver badge

      You will find that it is spelled Hindenburg.

      Interestingly, the R101 may have been the worse disaster, although it was not one that was broadcasted live by an over-emotional geezer with his nuts stuck in the folding chair.

      What the general public seems not to realize is that a low pressure membrane style helium container will experience diffusion where hydrogen will leak out and air, including oxygen, will leak in. Combine this with a government lead airship program which decides to save money by not replacing the many months old hydrogen gas mix with pure fresh hydrogen, and the design flaw of locating the water ignited flares below a water ballast tank, and you have the R101 ready to go (up in flames).

      In a modern day metal lined 700 bar pressure vessel, the hydrogen atoms will still find a slow way out, but oxygen will not enter (as long as you always maintain a minimum overpressure in the tank). If memory serves me right, we stopped at 5 bar.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sounds like you've been listening to Bruce Dickenson's commentary on "Empire of the clouds".

        1. LogicGate Silver badge

          Nope, just a combination of professional interest and a life long interest in aviation history.

          I am a very social person, I can talk for hours about aircraft.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            or...

            I can bore everyone to death when I talk for hours about aircraft.

            IMHO, 'AIrBores' are just above 'Gricers' on the boredom list. Gricers are at the bottom.

            I know that coz I used to be a Gricer but I got a transplant that cured my addiction.

            1. LogicGate Silver badge

              Re: or...

              If you did not get the irony in my comment albove, then your transplant did not cure anything, it just moved your boredom laterally to inane commenting in web-forums.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: or...

              +1 for increasing my vocabulary

              +bonus for recalling an obsolescent word from retirement

      2. LogicGate Silver badge

        Late correction:

        "a low pressure membrane style helium container" should read "a low pressure membrane style hydrogen container"

      3. dogcatcher

        I've never liked hydrogen since my father told me how a good friend of his perished in the R101. I still charge batteries in the open air.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "In a modern day metal lined 700 bar pressure vessel"

        ... unfortunately said vessels weight so much that 'the plane' would be good at driving around the airport.

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Most of the fire was actually the lacquer used to make the covering gas tight, not the hydrogen burning.

      1. LogicGate Silver badge

        Most of the VISIBLE fire was the laquer (and the aluminum and the cabins, and to some degree the souls remaining on board).

        Hydrogen burns without a visible flame. The amount of combustive energy stored in the hydrogen was a multiple of that stored in the paintjob.

        However, most of the hydrogen fire was dissapearing upwards, while molten and burning aluminum and other solids were dripping / flowing down.

        Hence, most of the direct lethality of the Hindenburg accident did probably not come from the hydrogen.

        ..And yes, I saw that show as well. Film-makers like to create sensationalism. I have experienced how the bringing of the wrong programming dongle was turned into a multi-minute tense moment with dramatic background music.

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Most of the fire was actually the lacquer used to make the covering gas tight, not the hydrogen burning.

        Burning hydrogen is almost invisible in daylight anyway.

    3. Danny 14

      as long as your car isnt covered in absorbant flammable tar coating covering loose gas bags then im sure you will be fine. You realise that many cars have been using pressurised LPG tanks for years? Those are far more dangerous than a tank of gasoline or H2.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "You realise that many cars have been using pressurised LPG tanks for years?"

        And there is a requirement that those tanks are exchanged every 5 years or so.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Those are far more dangerous than a tank of gasoline or H2."

        Gasoline yes, hydrogen no. You see, hydrogen doesn't stay put. Especially in a steel container. Not only that, it ruins the container a lot faster than LPG and then it just goes boom, just because of pressure inside.

        See: Hydrogen embrittlement (HE).

  4. theOtherJT Silver badge

    Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

    ...not a "green" fuel source.

    It has to come from somewhere. It's not like wind or solar power where it's just sort of there already and we need only build a machine to capture it. We have to make hydrogen - or at least refine it - normally by putting a ton of electricity into water. In that respect it's more like having to refine petrol out of crude oil, or extract and purify uranium from uranium ore. The electricity to do that has to come from somewhere.

    Theoretically hydrogen might be a good way to store energy in a moving vehicle - presumably via fuel cells to generate electricity, rather than by feeding it into a combustion engine, because as a combustion fuel source it has... issues - but however we use it, first we have to create it.

    It would seem that any time it's suggested by politicians that hydrogen is going to be this big part of the "green future" they neglect to mention that there's this whole much bigger part of the green future that needs to happen first to make it viable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

      Green or no depending on how it is produced, Hydrogen is still a much more suitable alternative for vehicles here in Saskatchewan, Canada, where we're currently dealing with -40C wind chills and -30C real thermometer temperatures for a week at a time. We also have a very sparse population. If I recall correctly, our 1.2 million people live on a landmass larger than all of the British Isles put together, and over half of them live in the two major "cities" of 300,000-odd people - the rest are scattered far and wide, making it impractical to build an electrical infrastructure suitable for everyone in the province to switch to EVs.

      1. theOtherJT Silver badge

        Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

        Under those sorts of circumstances I'd assume the best thing to do is stick with petrol. Even diesel will start to freeze when it's that cold. This is one of the many reasons I think we need to be more pragmatic about transport. Not everyone everywhere can use an EV. "Three hundred mile range!" sounds reasonable, until you live somewhere where it's a 301 mile trip to the next place you can charge.

        I remember driving across Queensland Australia about 25 years ago and passing a sign that said "Next fuel: 400km." Which just isn't the sort of thing you're used to seeing if you live in Europe. You just can't take EV's into an environment like that. You can't take most normal cars into an environment like, that but people do live there and that's something that governments around the world need to take into account.

        I don't know where the most remote part of the Scottish highlands is, but I don't think I'd feel comfortable going out there without an extra jerry can full of petrol in the back, and that's nothing like as remote as bits of really big countries like Canada, Australia, etc.

        1. Fifth Horseman

          Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

          Cape Wrath is a long way from anywhere else, but the most remote part is probably the Knoydart peninsula. It has the distinction of being the sole settlement on the mainland where the only (vehicle) access is by sea - a ferry crossing from Mallaig. A very nice spot it is, too.

          Not in the Highlands, but Unst in north Shetland takes some beating for sheer remoteness. A mate of mine's last forces posting was to RAF Saxa Vord (same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska), he's never been the same since...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

          Just drove West across the Barkly highway and the only roadhouse between the QLD/NT border and the Stuart Highway was out of service after being flooded by ex cyclone Ellie. This meant that we had to get from Camooweal to Threeways without refueling, which is about 446km. Not a problem as we have a range of ~650kms on a full tank, but have a 20 litre jerry can as well for contingencies. Might have been a problem in an EV.

        3. skierpage

          Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

          If you're regularly driving 301 miles you're burning through tons of fossil fuel every year. With a carbon tax commensurate with the massive harms from burning all that crap, you will be surprised how quickly people in cold spread-out regions would figure out how to make EVs work, because the cost of green hydrogen or renewable e-fuel for their energy-intensive lives is enormous.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

            "With a carbon tax commensurate with the massive harms from burning all that crap"

            You wrote it wrong: "Imagined harm" when the population density is basically zero. That tax exists solely to fill government coffers.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

        "where we're currently dealing with -40C wind chills and -30C real thermometer temperatures for a week at a time"

        Wind chill is an estimate of how a temperature will affect a human. An EV is only going to see the -30C. There are some model EV's that can be ordered with a cold weather upgrade that has strategies to mitigate the worst effects. Even diesel engines need block heaters when it gets super cold.

        Switching to EV's is not going to take place overnight or in just a few years. Politicians need to understand the problems that come with high rates of change and the waste of not using up the previous technology as it's replaced. There may be plenty of instances where an EV will not work for the foreseeable future. I can see where it might be a problems in sections of the Great White North. The grid will continue to grow over time and eventually it may not be a problem to own an EV way off the paved road.

    2. Col_Panek

      Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

      Seems to me (although I am not a chemist) there would be more viable synthetic fuels that could be distributed using current infrastructure, saving some trillions of dollars and pounds and thus make all this greenness economically more palatable. Some use nitrogen to suck up the burny stuff, so we couldn't use combustion engines because hot nitrogen makes nasty. We could use good ole moonshine if we take the carbon out of the air, not out of the ground. And filling stations could stay in business.

      1. skierpage

        Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

        That's Porsche's dream with its renewable e-fuel plant in Chile powered by wind. But "economical"? Hahahaha... Green H2 is punishingly expensive, making liquid fuel from it plus CO2 sucked out of the air will be even more expensive, Doing it at scale will require trillions of dollars in infrastructure in addition to terawatts of dedicated renewable energy. Paying 1000p/liter or more for e-fuel only works for rich sports car drivers and a few niche cases, EVERYONE else will drive BEVs that skip the expensive inefficient detour through a fuel carrier.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

          "Green H2 is punishingly expensive, making liquid fuel from it plus CO2 sucked out of the air will be even more expensive"

          ... and yet solar power is marketed literally as free power. Because the chemistry needed isn't complicated, it just needs (semi-)free local power and you get that from solar cells.

          Claim does not compute.

          "Doing it at scale will require trillions of dollars in infrastructure "

          *What* infrastructure? Infra for carrying liquid fuel for cars already exists (zero cost) and building a power plant(s) in desert hardly classifies as 'infra', it's *just* a plant.

          Solar cells are dirt cheap so it would be in millions -range, not even billions.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

      "...not a "green" fuel source."

      I was going to write a similar diatribe. A big problem with the push for Hydrogen is the use of the word "fuel". Politicians have to be led around by the nose when it comes to technical topics, so using the F word hand them the wrong image. At best Hydrogen is a storage medium, but it's a poor one. The thinking that electrolyzing water "at-scale" is going to make any difference is malarky. Even with 100% efficiency splitting the molecular bonds is a much more wasteful use of electricity than just stuffing it into a chemical battery. In practice, splitting water is done through brute force and some added chemicals to the water that you wouldn't want to sprinkle on your morning porridge.

      I see Hydrogen as a very niche energy storage medium that may only be suited for use on rockets. Everything else works out to be a huge distraction.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

        "Even with 100% efficiency splitting the molecular bonds is a much more wasteful use of electricity than just stuffing it into a chemical battery."

        Works if you do it at home. But anything with 'battery' *does not scale*. At all.

        Storing large amounts of electricity (like megawattyears) is just not feasible by any known method, you *have to* convert it to something else. Like a hydrocarbon: Stable fluid, easy to store and transport, uses existing infrastructure and still carbon neutral as carbon for it is taken from air.

        Also it being 'wasteful' is irrelevant when you have all of it for free: Only cost is the investment.

        For reference: Do you even know that ~30% of *all electricity* generated globally is lost as transfer losses? Now you know.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hydrogen is an energy storage medium...

      "Theoretically hydrogen might be a good way to store energy in a moving vehicle - presumably via fuel cells to generate electricity, rather than by feeding it into a combustion engine, because as a combustion fuel source it has... issues -"

      Mostly political issues; Most CO2 comes from burning coal (not petrol), but somehow that's never mentioned. Selective 'truths' are always the best for a politician.

      Also no-one is even imaging about shutting down coal burning power plants. Nono, it's *only* the petrol burning cars which need to go. .... and who makes the electricity for electric cars, in real life? Achh, the coal burning power plant. It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic.

      Anyway, hydrogen is a PITA anywhere you need to handle it as it doesn't stay put. But having a solar farm to generate H2 *and* concentrate CO2 from air and combine these to nice carbohydrate, like octane, would make a carbon- neutral fuel easy to handle and transport with existing infrastructure. Whole process uses a lot of energy but so? Solar farm has a lot of that and transporting it as electricity will induce major transfer losses.

      Every green ever is against that as it would mean cars with internal combustion would still be in use, now only carbon-neutral, so they'd have to invent other reasons to oppose them (which they already did when electrical cars were appearing).

  5. Management Order
    Holmes

    Vans and Lorries

    The question I have is how you are going to get vans, lorries and other LGV and HGV vehicles to do long distances on batteries? There either needs to be a significant step up in energy density of batteries or the recharge times need to be in minutes, not units of hours. The attraction of H to me as a van owner is that you could fill up a tank in much the same time as conventional fuel and, presumably, get some distance with it. I tend to drive 4-500 miles a day in my van, so the current range of e-vans is too limited and would require 2-3 recharges to achieve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vans and Lorries

      This is one of those corner cases where H2 might make sense, but only if the stars align.

      Current vans are quite a distance off your needs today. They'll charge - roughly - 100miles per 30 mins on a fast charger. So call it 300-350 miles in a day assuming you've done a bulk charge overnight for a base ~150-180mi and manage a bit of charging through the day as well, either an hour on a fast charger or a few hours on mains. So *almost* there on a good day, but not enough for you to bank your business on, and if you're clocking 400mi a day you probably aren't stopping for an hour for a leisurely lunch either!

      The big elephant in the room for H2 vehicles is demand. There are only ~15 H2 pumping stations in the entire UK today, and we only produce a tiny fraction of the H2 we'd need for vehicles to consume it routinely. Unless there's mass market adoption of H2 vehicles by other industries or consumers that won't change. There won't be the demand for it. Domestic cars won't adopt H2. Not enough advantages. And in freight land, the reality is the overwhelming majority of HGV and LGV trips already fit inside the EV envelope. The UK average HGV trip is ~107km. A majority of vans never go further than 15 miles from base. Over 80% almost never leave their immediate region.

      We have the technology and (in the right places) the infrastructure to support EVs for most HGV and LGV activity, so why bother with H2? It's important to remember "H2 vehicles" are really H2-EV hybrids, as in they run on batteries with an H2 generator for range extension, because the power density of fuel cells is so woefully low they'll never run anything heavier than a milk float. They're already plug-in electric vehicles. So it's hard to see a world where H2 infrastructure becomes widespread on the roads, outside of specialised long-distance haulage networks. We'll be 2-3 generations of EV further on before H2 is even dreaming of being feasible outside of trials, and I'd be willing to bet by that time you can get yourself a 500mi range van, and if not just keep your old hydrocarbon-fuelled banger ticking over for a few more years yet. Petrol stations aren't going anywhere any time soon.

      1. EnviableOne

        Re: Vans and Lorries

        the whole point of H2, as a storage medium is you can reuse most of the Petroleum infrastructure with a little modification, it's also a far more environmentally friendly storage medium than lithium-ion-based batteries.

        the ideal situation is large offshore wind farms that are expensive to connect to the grid, use the energy generated to electrolyse hydrogen, which is stored locally, and collected by modified LNG tankers that take it to shore, where it is expanded and transported by pipe to distribution hubs, then in pressurised tankers to modified filling stations, for rapid transfer to vehicles, or in re-fillable hot swappable fuel cell units.

        the technology is there, the problem is the petro industry need to get on board. there are viable solutions to the problems, the problem is you need another Telsa to prove them.

        1. skierpage

          Re: Vans and Lorries

          No, hydrogen cannot reuse most of the petroleum infrastructure. All the dumb plans to mix H2 into gas networks max out at 20% hydrogen because it leaks and embrittles pipes; it also needs stronger pumps because it's less energy dense.

          No, hydrogen is not "far more environmentally friendly" than recyclable lithium-ion batteries. Efficiency matters, and needing 2.5x as much energy leaves hydrogen at a significant disadvantage.

          As you describe your complicated system, don't you realize how difficult it's likely to be? We have electrical networks, we have cheap renewables; anyone who really wants green H2 can make and store it locally. The petro industry promotes dubious uses for hydrogen because they know it will only increase demand for their dirty H2 for years.

          There is no Tesla that's going to prove green hydrogen "works." It's a decade-long slow slog to build 400GW of electrolyzers and a terawatt of renewables just to replace current uses of dirty H2, and all the hydrogen hype obscures how expensive the fuel is. The closest to Tesla is Fortescue Future Industries in Australia planning to build the wind and electrolyzers to make green H2 (and maybe methane or ammonia) and ship the green fuels to places without lots of renewable energy. Good luck to them.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Vans and Lorries

          "the technology is there,"

          No, it's not. LNG tanker can transport H2 as well as any oil tanker, i.e. not at all. Same thing applies to everything not designed for H2. It is *nasty* stuff compared to almost anything else.

          Offshore solar or wind farm *could* make LNG as well, but when you've tools, make something which is *easy* to transport and store, like octane.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Vans and Lorries

        "it's hard to see a world where H2 infrastructure becomes widespread on the roads, outside of specialised long-distance haulage networks. "

        That's already solved with trains which can be powered via overhead lines. More overall efficiency of the entire shipping network might yield better returns. If a freight train can be assembled and dispatched very quickly, goods can move from depot to depot where electric trucks take containers to distribution warehouses that break shipments down into loads to go to stores for the bulk of things being moved. If the process continues to take days and days, it won't be viable. Just changing what powers the vehicles won't make significant enough improvements by themselves.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vans and Lorries

        "A majority of vans never go further than 15 miles from base."

        Which is absolutely irrelevant number for a delivery van, that's a round trip of 30 miles and that's *one* trip. 10 trips a day and it's 300 miles. Any solution which means re-fuelling during a shift is a fail.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vans and Lorries

      In the short term, you don't. You use EVs for all those jobs where they do fit. And as the battery capacity/recharge time evolves you move EVs into other jobs they can handle.

    3. Tony Gathercole ...
      Headmaster

      H2 Transport Density

      Interesting quote I saw recently. References relative amounts of energy transported by typical distribution vehicles but gives an indication of some of the potential problems for getting H2 to where it will be consumed. While some H2 supply depots will be connected to pipelines, final distribution to the equivalent of "Petrol Stations" will inevitably be by road.

      "A hydrogen tube road trailer carries about one tonne of hydrogen, which is 130 billion Joules of energy. In contrast, a diesel tanker carries typically 40,000 litres of diesel, which is 1,800 billion Joules."

      David Shirres, quoted by Roger Ford, Modern Railways, December 2022

      Of course, denser tankage for H2 will be developed, but its a long way from 130 to 1,800 Billion Joules!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: H2 Transport Density

        "Of course, denser tankage for H2 will be developed,"

        Achh, the magic will solve the problems physics generates. I'd rather have anti-gravity and room temperature supraconductivity. The latter alone would render H2 obsolete.

        None of those will happen soon. Storing dense H2 has been tried, with large sums of money, since 1950. That's 70 years and basically zero commercially feasible solutions. Solutions exist, but way too expensive for any 'ordinary' use.

        H2 is a PITA to store and move. Unless you generate and *use* it locally, it's not feasible.

        The idea to move it long distances in steel pipes is literally a pipe dream: Hydrogen leaks through steel and brittles the steel while doing so, which means the pipe would burst in 5 to 15 years by itself.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vans and Lorries

      Tether them in a convoy, put in overhead power cables and use rails to guide them.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Vans and Lorries

        Siemens is running a trial in Germany where they have a section of Autobahn wired up so that trucks with pantographs can run off the OHLE and charge their batteries at the same time.

        The section is NE of Hamburg on the A1 Autobahn.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Vans and Lorries

          "Siemens is running a trial in Germany where they have a section of Autobahn wired up so that trucks with pantographs can run off the OHLE and charge their batteries at the same time."

          Getting more lorries off of the motorways would be a better goal.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vans and Lorries

        Isn't that known as a train?

        :)

    5. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Vans and Lorries

      The question I have is how you are going to get vans, lorries and other LGV and HGV vehicles to do long distances on batteries?

      Those sorts of vehicles don't have the plethora of designs that passenger cars do so are more amenable to having standardised battery packs that could be swapped for a recharge rather than having to plug them in and wait.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Vans and Lorries

        Precisely. When battery packs are standardised and swappable then we will have useful battery powered vehicles. The batteries that have been removed can be pretty much charged up at leisure, maintenance performed on them of necessary or retired, and the driver gets to drive away almost immediately. It's the only sane way to operate such a system without potentially inventing new aspects of physics where somehow electricity gets into a battery unfeasibly quickly without it exploding or otherwise heating itself out of shape and usefulness and chemistry joins in somehow to provide a higher energy density for a vaguely reasonable cost.

        Until then, we'll either have relatively short distance vehicles with annoying recharge times or swappable batteries.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Vans and Lorries

          The batteries that have been removed can be pretty much charged up at leisure

          Maybe, but there are two big obstancles:

          - It will be very hard to convince companies to agree on standards which they would see as removing a commercial advantage, i.e. "our batteries are better than theirs"

          - It will be very hard to convince people, and local authorities, to permit storage of dozens or hundreds of Li-Ion batteries on permanent charge anywhere near them. The potential for fire and resulting damage & toxic fumes will produce the same kind of resistance as nuclear waste storage does. It may not be logical, but NIMBYs are NIMBYs.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Vans and Lorries

          >Precisely. When battery packs are standardised and swappable then we will have useful battery powered vehicles.

          Not at all. This is what you get when you think along the lines of "how do I introduce EVs but keep acting the same way". You should be thinking about what is best for the new energy storage medium, not how to keep petrol forecourts alive.

          Swapping batteries is a daft idea for a whole bunch of reasons. Including things like establishing part-ownership of the very very expensive battery asset, things like designing batteries in such a way them and their high-voltage-DC-pixies can be handled by people, things like how to decouple a tonne and a bit of stuff from the rest of the vehicle it is very much a structural part of and so on.

          And most importantly because there is absolutely no need to do this. EVs are already into the 200-300 mile range. The default mode of operation is to bulk charge overnight at the vehicle's base, not out in the field. Yes, this isn't enough for all use cases, but it is far beyond the needs of the domestic market and the majority of the commercial market. Throw in high-voltage DC charging and all other technologies pale into near-pointlessness - when you can throw 100-150 miles into a vehicle in 30 minutes at any service station or supermarket you have more than enough coverage for almost every real world use.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Vans and Lorries

            "when you can throw 100-150 miles into a vehicle in 30 minutes at any service station or supermarket you have more than enough coverage for almost every real world use."

            In the cases where the doesn't work, we look at the problem again in a number of years and see if a solution presents itself. Waiting for the Silver Bullet means doing nothing even when we have a good solution for a majority of cases.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Vans and Lorries

              "Waiting for the Silver Bullet means doing nothing even when we have a good solution for a majority of cases."

              We don't have any solutions outside niche markets. Too slow to fill, too expensive, needs infra we don't have (at home) and supermarket charges so much from electricity that it would be cheaper to buy gas.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Vans and Lorries

            "EVs are already into the 200-300 mile range."

            Yes, if you omit the cost. Because naturally everyone has money to invest 50 kilos to a car. And have 3*25 amps main fuses in their house. And a charging station. And don't need car half of the day while it's charging.

            So: it's a toy for rich people and poor taxpayers subsidy it a lot. Not only that, power stations burn coal to make the electricity so that EV owner can have a holier than thou- attitude.

            Basically none of them are 'daily drivers', but fall into 'showpiece' -category. For price alone, 'daily drivers' cost single kilos. I'm not seeing a change in that.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Vans and Lorries

        "The question I have is how you are going to get vans, lorries and other LGV and HGV vehicles to do long distances on batteries?"

        Why would you? Long distances are better handled by trains. They are more efficient and can be power via overhead lines that take advantage of the most suitable power available along their routes. A battery tender car can let the train bridge short gaps where overhead lines are difficult and a small (relatively) diesel range extender car can be added for routes or sections not yet electrified.

    6. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Vans and Lorries

      We may have that battery in a year or so. Aluminum graphene have 3 times the energy density and can accept a full charge (which means 0 to 100 percent, not the 20 to 80 percent for lithium) in 10 minutes. Once these batteries hit commercial usage, the bottleneck becomes supply and for that we need those thorium nuclear reactors.

      I'm pretty sure Tesla already tested removable battery packs and found they wouldn't be viable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vans and Lorries

        "We may have that battery in a year or so"

        No. 'better battery' has been 'within an year' at least since NiCd. Some happened (NiMH, Li-Ion), >99% didn't. Once it is in wide commercial use, then we know we got it. Not a day before.

        Batteries overall are already causing major environmental damage, at mining phase. There's literally nothing eco-friendly in them, any of them.

  6. codejunky Silver badge

    Meh

    "but future decisions on the role of hydrogen must increasingly be practical, taking into account what is technically and economically achievable."

    If they did that with energy policy in general we wouldnt be in such a situation as we are now.

  7. RyokuMas
    Stop

    Call me crazy, but...

    For any given energy yielded by hydrogen, doesn't it require about three times as much energy in electricity to make the stuff?

    That said, heat pumps aren't a viable alternative - at least, not until they're affordable.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: Call me crazy, but...

      The total energy from burning hydrogen should be about as much as was needed to electrolyse the original water. But then thermodynamics means only about a third of that energy is available as the output of an internal combustion engine.

      1. Henry Hallan
        FAIL

        Re: Call me crazy, but...

        Not so. Because hydrogen is a gas the energy required to extract it from water includes the equivalent of heat of vaporization - and that is lost forever.

        The only people who want a hydrogen economy are the ones who want the strange and outdated "forecourt model" to continue.

        The scientists know it is very inefficient - and for once the Government is listening

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: outdated "forecourt model" to continue

          Try telling that to Gridserve. They are building 'Electric Forecourts'. I used the one in Norwich last Saturday. The next one at Gatwick Airport will open in the middle of next year. 20+ 350kW DC chargers + shops and a cafe.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Call me crazy, but...

          "The only people who want a hydrogen economy are the ones who want the strange and outdated "forecourt model" to continue."

          Many people I see arguing against EV's have that forecourt model firmly riveted down in their heads. They don't think EV's will work until there are huge numbers of charging forecourts everywhere. Most EV owners right now charge at home. Plenty have never used a public DC fast charger and some of those have never charged their cars away from home. I see never having to stop for charging to meet my day to day needs as a huge bonus. I'd still like a car that charges like stink since there are a couple of solar eclipses rather far away that I'll be going to see in the next couple of years.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Call me crazy, but...

            " Most EV owners right now charge at home. "

            Yes. But you've cause and effect reversed: They have EV *only because* they *can charge* at home and use commercial charging points only in longer trips. For starters: Price.

            A solution that doesn't scale: Most people do not have a house with a driveway: That's a solution for a suburb and/or countryside, i.e. rich people. Just like any other 50k car would be.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Call me crazy, but...

        "The total energy from burning hydrogen should be about as much as was needed to electrolyse the original water."

        Neither process is anywhere near 100% efficient. Both are rather inefficient.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Call me crazy, but...

      H2 production is about 80% efficient. It's on a par with flywheel and pumped storage in efficiency terms, but capable of storing potentially much, much more energy than either one. SSE are working on a site that they reckon can store ~300GWh H2 in an old gas storage site. That's 10x the storage capacity of a comparable pumped-storage facility, without the need to build any pesky dams or reservoirs, and we can turn the H2 into electricity almost as fast as we can push it through a turbine. In many respects H2 is the perfect storage medium.

      It just sucks for almost everything else.

      1. LogicGate Silver badge

        Re: Call me crazy, but...

        And the conversion back into electricity can run at approximately 60% efficiency, more if you capture and utilize the 40% waste heat. Do not underestimate H2 if sourced and applied correctly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Call me crazy, but...

        "old gas storage site." ... and naturally pumping H2 in there in very high pressure doesn't use any energy.

        But said pressure can be used when it's taken out in a turbine. Nice.

        How many percentages said storage site loses, per week? 2%?

        Probably more than any other gas, as H2 is nasty stuff to store and won't stay put in ordinary 'gas' tank.

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Call me crazy, but...

      If you have over capacity in renewables (for the UK and Northern Europe that is wind) then it does not matter.

      The goal is usable, genuinely green energy that in the process of using it also does not do untold damage.

      The hydrogen fuel cell ticks al lot of those boxes and was viable in cars long before the current craze that BEVs are somehow green.

      When anything up 60% of the UK electricity supply is from gas, electric cars are just greenwashing by people who can afford them or companies doing it for no other reason than tax mitigation.

      Most of the people I know who have EVs are either company provided or they bought them to "be green". Those same people will still not think twice about flying off once a month on a short break and a couple of time a year long-haul.

      1. skierpage

        Re: Call me crazy, but...

        Stop with the nonsense. Every recent study (Cambride/Exeter/Nijmeggen 2020, Eindhoven 2020, ICTT 2021) concludes an EV powered from the current grid in most of the world is better overall for the environment. An EV goes about 2.5x further than an equivalent petrol car on the same amount of energy, even if it's from fossil fuel. Since the majority of new generation in the UK and globally is wind and solar (because they're cheap and quick), every EV on the road will only get cleaner.

        Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are dead man walking. There hasn't been a single new HFC car announced for production since the second-generation Toyota Mirai in 2019. To sell a few thousand in California after the state blew $100M on 40 refueling stations, Toyota and Hyundai have to give away $15,000 in free fuel with each lease; most buyers look at the cramped expensive slow Mirai and Nexo that they can never recharge at home or work, and reject them in favor of a BEV. As the MP report correctly says, there is an '"unassailable" market lead held by alternatives such as electric cars.'

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Call me crazy, but...

          "Every recent study (Cambride/Exeter/Nijmeggen 2020, Eindhoven 2020, ICTT 2021) concludes an EV powered from the current grid in most of the world is better overall for the environment"

          Assume that electricity and batteries drop from heaven and of course they get that kind of result. It's also patentable BS. That's how easy it is.

          ". An EV goes about 2.5x further than an equivalent petrol car on the same amount of energy"

          Which is absolutely irrelevant when EV energy *has to be made* and petrol is pumped from the ground. Also it's comparing *energy source* to *energy storage*, which is intentional lying and they know it.Probably you know it too, most people using this argument know what they are doing.

          Start electricity efficiency from the coal/uranium mine and you get totally different numbers (EV is *horribly bad* in energy efficiency), which also would be comparing apples to apples, instead of picking a random number to compare to.

    4. hairydog

      Re: Call me crazy, but...

      Not crazy, just failing to understand. Renewable power is very variable. Some of the time there is not enough, some of the time there is too much. There higher the capacity installed, there more likely it is that there is enough, and also there will be far more times when there is too much.

      Creating green hydrogen is no more than 10% efficient, but that doesn't matter: you only do it when there is excess capacity and electricity prices are low or negative.

      The hydrogen can be stored to power standby generation when there's a renewables shortfall, or stored to use as transport or injected into the gas main.

      It can be electrolyzed at roadside filling stations to minimise transport costs, or near where the excess power is, to reduce transmission losses.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Call me crazy, but...

        "Not crazy, just failing to understand. Renewable power is very variable. Some of the time there is not enough, some of the time there is too much. There higher the capacity installed, there more likely it is that there is enough, and also there will be far more times when there is too much."

        What's lacking is something that can take advantage of a variable source. If leccy rates could be transmitted down the line and cars programmed to take advantage of low rates when power is plentiful, there's a good way to make use of that energy. An EV that can go 300mi owned by a person that travels 30mi/day means they only need to charge once a week leaving them with some buffer. This can mean that the car will usually have battery space to soak up energy when rates are low such as at 3am when there is a good blow somewhere in the network. It could also be a weekend with bright sun and a bit of a breeze when major power users are shut. Not only can EV's take advantage of excess supply, so can charging stations that have battery storage on-site so they are able to supply lots of peak power even if the grid supply isn't up to the task. There are peak surcharges for heavy short term usage. Being able to maintain a lower draw can be a big savings for charging station operators. If they can charge a large battery when supply is high, they can dispense that energy during the day when demand is usually high.

    5. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Call me crazy, but...

      "heat pumps aren't a viable alternative - at least, not until they're affordable"

      This story may not be wholly representative, but it is suggestive of a potential problem that seems intrinsic to heat pumps -- when needed most they have to work hardest.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Call me crazy, but...

      For any given energy yielded by hydrogen, doesn't it require about three times as much energy in electricity to make the stuff?

      That's the high end using gaseous H2, and fuel cells.

      As soon as you want liquid hydrogen, ammonia, or start burning it in combustion engines you reduce it to 10-20%

      But, that's all the current fossil fuel system achieves today, and 10-20% end-end efficiency doesn't seem to have put people off diesel. Why would it stop hydrogen?

      The competition is batteries, and overhead wires where >75% efficiency is achievable.

    7. Danny 14

      Re: Call me crazy, but...

      yes but if the windfarm is able to produce 30GWh between 12AM and 4AM but the demand is only 5GWh then the 25GWh remaining can be left to produce 7GWh H2 equivalent. So inefficient yes but overall useful.

  8. Andy 73 Silver badge

    Here we go...

    It's funny to hear green advocates deploy the same arguments against hydrogen that were used against battery electric vehicles - it's expensive, there's no infrastructure, it's only of niche interest, it's not really green etc. etc.

    At the same time, the committee is right, in that hydrogen has a lot of (so far) insurmountable technical problems to be useful - truly green, cost effective hydrogen generation and storage being key. Until then, no we shouldn't force legislation through in an attempt to wish a hydrogen economy into existence. They're also dead right that it might only be justifiable in specific niche areas - just as batteries are proving in transport applications. So, for once it sounds like a government committee has been informed and pragmatic. Perhaps we should mark the day in our diaries.

    Meanwhile, I get that there are huge political reasons for some committed environmentalists to be against hydrogen (the involvement of big oil and all the rest). However, that's not a reason to be against the technology itself *so long as the technical limitations can be solved*. Yes, that's not a given, but I can't see how anyone could seriously be against ongoing research into all areas of hydrogen use. A breakthrough in any one of chemistry, materials, handling could transform our society as much as a breakthrough in fusion would. Without any access to a crystal ball, I'd want to back research into both to see which we can crack first.

    This is exactly the area that commercial and research establishments should be looking into - so it seems weird to me that some people go from "hydrogen isn't currently viable", to "we must stop considering hydrogen because (reasons)". As I said at the start, that was exactly the argument against battery electric vehicles, and turned out to be very wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here we go...

      >However, that's not a reason to be against the technology itself *so long as the technical limitations can be solved*.

      The limitations of H2 aren't technical niggles to be ironed out through iteration or some new frontier of exploratory science. The physics and chemistry of turning energy into H2 and back again are near-enough fundamental. A fuel cell in a modern H2 vehicle probably looks and behaves the same as one from the Apollo era. The economics for how this stuff works and could work are well established. This isn't the committee identifying a bunch of areas that need new research before we commit to a policy, this is the committee saying the research has been done, and short of some new, unlikely-but-fundamental breakthrough, H2 is a dead end for most purposes.

      1. Andy 73 Silver badge

        Re: Here we go...

        Read my post again. I completely agree with the committe's conclusions. However, I don't understand the (apparently religious) argument that therefore any further research and experimentation in hydrogen should be opposed. Certainly much of it is tilting at windmills, but where every small advancement in battery technology is greeted with enthusiasm (despite the many failures), hydrogen research appears to be anathema to many people.

        1. IanRS

          Re: Here we go...

          Read the reply again.

          It is not a case of 'we need to solve this problem', but that of 'existing science shows there is no (efficient) solution to this problem'.

          1. Andy 73 Silver badge

            Re: Here we go...

            It doesn't necessarily have to be efficient, since the one thing we struggle to do *at all* is store and transport green energy at scale. It is the flat limit of nearly all of our current renewable energy sources that we are forced to use them more or less at the time of generation and within the transmission reach of a national grid.

            Whilst the technology does seem an unlikely fit for personal transport, this issue of energy storage at larger scale may be the one thing hydrogen may be able to address where efficiency is outweighed by hard limitations of the alternatives.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Here we go...

            "but that of 'existing science shows there is no (efficient) solution to this problem'."

            The science is also very well supported by concepts that have been canon for a few hundred years. The likelihood that there is some way we can "cheat" and massively increase efficiency isn't very high. There is tremendously more low-hanging fruit to be gathered and none of it needs a massive tax-payer funding budget to happen.

      2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Here we go...

        H2 fuel cells are very cool, however they are not a viable mass market way to generate electricity. They work incredibly well in very tightly constrained scenarios, for example the Apollo lunar modules, as they could be fed pure oxygen which meant that they worked quite efficiently with useful water as a by product... however they are not that efficient unless you also want the heat generated at the same time.

        For use as a heater in a commercial or residential setting, the electricity generated could be used alongside the heat generated in the process for heating. The combination of the two would work well in theory, as long as you want the heat. However the degradation of the fuel cell due to not using pure oxygen will add up quite quickly and this rapidly reduces the efficiency further as well as the "clean" credentials of the technology.

        Some of this is quite possibly fixable with research and development but it doesn't remove the fact that as the smallest molecule there is, H2 is an absolute arse to store. It being rather explosive doesn't help much either. One upside it that in a moderate/open air leakage scenario it's not dangerous as long as there's no oxygen and a source of ignition - the hydrogen will rapidly head upwards and dissipate quickly.

    2. skierpage

      Re: Here we go...

      All politicians have to do is mandate that 100% of the hydrogen in these dubious new uses for it is green hydrogen made with renewables. Then watch as most of the demonstration projects and hydrogen hype fizzles out, because for most uses (home appliances, heating, many industrial processes, transportation), electrifying to use renewable electricity directly is and will always be much cheaper thank making the expensive detour through hydrogen.

      Every analyst outside the fossil fuel industry and the politicians they buy off understands this (how did UK gas companies screw up the bribes to the Commons Science and Technology Committee?). Go look at Michael Liebrich's hydrogen ladder diagram ranking uses of hydrogen from dumb to unavoidable.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here we go...

      "Yes, that's not a given, but I can't see how anyone could seriously be against ongoing research into all areas of hydrogen use"

      I can: Stupid waste of money until someone has solved the storage problem. And that's a *physics* problem, it won't be solved by any company ever, that's university and Nobel-prize level of research,

      Companies use it ('reseach') just as a sink to lose profits so they don't have to pay taxes. Also as a way to get 'grants' from government for 'research', i.e. more profit.

  9. DenTheMan

    Politicians have lost the plot on this one

    As already said here, Hydrogen is a fuel that can be used to store energy. And ever increasingly this is becoming green energy from wind and solar.

    Mixing with gas simply continues the trend for global warming. Hydrogen production can use 100% of the excess from solar and wind giving the UK the potential for 100% hydrogen, solar and wind green energy.

    In the meantime, we, the UK banned ultra cheap onshore and have agreed to financially cover the cost overrun for Sizewell C. Even before any cost overrun, onshore wind is many times cheaper than nuclear energy.

    And why was onshore wind banned? It dates back 9 years or so when 2nd home owners were worried about their 2nd homes being devalued by nearby wind farms.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Politicians have lost the plot on this one

      Nuclear is baseload. Until sufficient storage for renewable sources is achieved it has its purpose even if it is expensive

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Politicians have lost the plot on this one

        AFAIK, the agreed lowest price for Hinckley C is £92.00/MWh

        The current strike price is £285.00/MWh (https://grid.iamkate.com/) at 15:30 on 20th Dec

        That isn't expensive. Last week the price was over £600.00/MWh

        In the summer, Nuclear is indeed expensive. Not so in the winter.

        1. DenTheMan

          Re: Politicians have lost the plot on this one

          Yes, £92 before the added costs go on. So about 11cents per kw/h before the added cots.

          The last reported levellised cost of onshore wind was 3 cents per kw/h. But only achievable if the whole thing is state owned.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Politicians have lost the plot on this one

      Excess power from Wind and Solar? Yeah for about three months a year (in the summer)

      Last week, our consumption was over 40GWh due to the cold weather. A lack of wind and sun meant that Gas/Coal provided 70%+ of that demand. Nuclear and imports made up the rest.

      Currently, the UK's wind farms can output up to 22GWh if the conditions are right.

      That means for most of the year, there is ZERO surplus power available to convert leccy into H2.

      For that to happen, the UK needs to triple its Wind Farm capacity and in doing so, extend the locations out to the west of Scotland and Ireland and SW England to get better coverage when there is little wind in the North Sea. That won't happen tomorrow.

      1. hairydog

        Re: Politicians have lost the plot on this one

        Coffey has said that there is currently 16GW of solar capacity in the UK (I thought it was nearer 12GW) and that the government intends to increase this to 70GW.

        Now I am not advocating belief in anything a Tory politician says, but that's a lot more than three times as much

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Politicians have lost the plot on this one

          "and that the government intends to increase this to 70GW."

          The government shouldn't be involved. Doing things through any government just tosses in a multiplication factor to the costs. If governments looked for way to get the hell out of the way in most instances it would lead to lower costs and more interest from private industry.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Politicians have lost the plot on this one

            " lower costs ", for sure.

            But *not* lower price to you. Which would be the point, wouldn't it?

            Corporation has infinite greed so "lower cost" is meaningless when we are talking about price.

      2. hairydog

        Re: Politicians have lost the plot on this one

        GWh is a total amount, not a rate and your figures are just plain wrong in any case.

        Last week, consumption varied between about 45GW ans 25GW.

        A rough average would be about 30GW, so over the week, the total consumption would be 5,040GWh

      3. DenTheMan

        Re: Politicians have lost the plot on this one

        We are already close to 50% on a good day, 3% on the worst days.

        Increase onshore by 100 fold and you have excess 98% of the time. Meaning green hydrogen can be 100% used for base load.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Politicians have lost the plot on this one

      "Mixing with gas simply continues the trend for global warming. "

      Global warming was buried in mid-2010s as 'not happening'. Instead the invented 'climate change' which either means the same thing or whatever the sayer wants.Very convinient.

      Hydrogen won't mix with gas well, so better idea is to use the excess to to make octane (hydrocarbon) with hydrogen and CO2 grabbed from air and use that as gas. CO2-neutral fuel and uses existing infrastructure: win-win.

  10. katrinab Silver badge
    Flame

    If you are going to produce hydrogen using electrolysis, then would it not be better, in most cases, to just use the electricity directly?

    It is a lot more efficient to distribute the electricity over the grid and use it for heating in a resistive heater or heat pump.

    The range of a vehicle with a battery pack or a hydrogen tank is about the same, and the battery pack is a lot more efficient.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I guess it's mostly about the refueling times. Professional vehicles need to run over long distances, which current batteries simply can't handle. Transport isn't a big profit industry which can afford to leave tractors charging for long hours. As for having a bunch of spare, already charged battery packs, it's too heavy an investment, not to mention the practicality of it (moving a truck sized battery pack would require a fork lift, and of course a vast number of depots where said trucks could go get a fresh pack every x kilometers).

      Long story short, currently (and for the foreseeable future) batteries only work for small distances. A truck driving all across the continent can't possibly be electric.

      1. skierpage

        Time is money but diesel costs big money too. Most "professional vehicles" run predictable routes well within the capabilities of 2023's battery trucks. Battery electric transportr will take over more and more of the market, while hydrogen fuel cells will struggle, as has happened with passenger vehicles. Daimler Truck, TRATON, and Volvo trucking are investing €500 million to develop 1,700 dedicated truck recharging points across Europe, while waiting for governments to subsidize a few hydrogen refueling stations.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If you are going to produce hydrogen using electrolysis, then would it not be better, in most cases, to just use the electricity directly?"

      Depends. You can't put electricity in a tanker and transport it around with ~0 loss. The longer the distance, the higher the losses and they increase fast. Here in North the longest lines are about 500 miles and even with 400kV lines, the transfer losses are in 30% class.

      Compare that to a tanker (truck) full of gas, 50 tons of it and ~200 kilos of that is used to transfer it same 500 miles: 4 promilles. Transferring electricity costs money, a lot and grid is 'efficient' only on very short distances.

      "The range of a vehicle with a battery pack or a hydrogen tank is about the same, and the battery pack is a lot more efficient."

      And both weigh 400 kilos while gas tank would weight 100 kilos and have triple range. Neither of those is a good solution.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We spent all our subsidies on poorly performing battery-electric cars and windmills, and now golly gee, the grid is falling apart, energy costs are through the roof, and yet nothing else can compete. It's almost like government subsidies ossify and distort free markets.

  12. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

    Fuels for purposes

    Right now, we run busses and lorries on Diesel, cars on Diesel and gasoline, aeroplanes on kerosene, ships on heavy oil and power stations on oil, gas or coal.

    Each fuel has its applications with specific strengths and benefits.

    So, why would one think that it would be feasible/advantageous to run everything in the future off hydrogen?

    Some thing sure, but other things might benefit from a different fuel/power source.

    People trying to sell you a silver bullet for everything are charlatans.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    According to google, wholesale Hydrogen is about $10 a kilo and contains 120MJ/kg of energy. Wholesale methane is about $1.35/kg and contains about 55MJ/kg of energy.

    Back of the envelope calculation means that Hydrogen is about 12MJ/$ and methane is about 40MJ/$.

    So Hydrogen fuel is currently more than 3 times the price of Methane fuel, even with the current sky high price of methane.

    That's before you take into account the cost of necessary equipment.

    Until those economics are sorted out, it would be utterly idiotic for anybody to switch to a hydrogen powered boiler.

    Our government should not be banning the sale of vital equipment like methane powered boilers until there is an alternative available which is affordable for ordinary people.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " wholesale Hydrogen is about $10 a kilo"

      That's more or less irrelevant as *a* kilo of H2 uses 12.2 cubic meters of container. That's right. About 2*2*3 *meters*. Use 100 bar pressure and you can store *a kilo* into 122 liter tank. Not very useful, eh?

      Either you have a large diameter pipe from production to consumption or you don't use hydrogen. That's the reality.

      A cubic meter of H2 contains only 82 grams of hydrogen, about 9,9MJ. Compare that to ordinary gasoline, 32MJ per *liter*, ~3500-fold energy density by volume.

      Hydrogen brittleness is the next problem, but I don't go to that here.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These would be the MPs who blocked new nuclear in 2010 on the basis it wouldn't be ready until 2020. Geniuses the lot of them.

  16. Tom 7

    Did they not read that bit last week?

    Where using sound waves allowed the electrolyser to product 20 times the H2 for the same input.

  17. Scott Broukell

    Conversely, had any Tory chums or donors already got their snouts and trotters well into piles of hydrogen energy investments, you can be sure that it would be the buzz word de-jour and government (tax payer), funding would go straight in there to pay for consulting hires and oodles of side-loaded, off-shored, accounts would be full to bursting with filthy cash injections! Just saying.

    1. Scott Broukell

      Addendum: Other political groups/parties would not necessarily be immune or averse to such behaviour either.

  18. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Can someone please, please tell Toyota

    They are sitting on the fence and still promoting the H2 myth.

    https://insideevs.com/news/627518/toyota-ceo-says-silent-majority-doubtful-electric-only-future/

    The CEO says...

    "Because the right answer is still unclear, we shouldn't limit ourselves to just one option,"

    Ok, then what are the other options (Apart from H2) then?

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Can someone please, please tell Toyota

      @Steve Davies 3

      "Ok, then what are the other options (Apart from H2) then?"

      Petrol seems to work pretty well.

  19. Chris Roberts

    I liked this bit

    The report pointed out that if hydrogen were to completely or substantially replace gas in domestic heating systems, "a massive and costly programme of replacing boilers, meters and network infrastructure would likely be required."

    Which will be completed at about the same time cheap fusion power is available?

    If there is spare power to produce hydrogen then methane can be produced in a carbon neutral way, new boilers have much lower NOx and there are ways it can be reduced further. While not perfect it is probably a better path than replacing the gas infrastructure.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: I liked this bit

      How do you combust CH4 (+ 2O2 --> CO2 + 2H2O) in a carbon neutral way?

      1. Crypto Monad Silver badge

        Re: I liked this bit

        By synthesising the input CH4 from atmospheric CO2 (or captured CO2 where it is already being emitted).

  20. gnasher729 Silver badge

    What about if we got lots of land in Newfoundland, fill it with wind turbines, and used the energy to extract hydrogen? I wonder if any country might have plans of doing that?

    1. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

      I think The Netherlands has plans to do that. But in De Noordzee, not in Newfoundland. It seems logical because it's easier to store Hydrogen than electricity, especially if your country is flatter than a very flat thing – it makes pumped storage somewhat difficult.

      The Belgians had some plan to build a massive tidal pool somewhere out to sea. Not sure why nobody has done it yet. Instead they build silly little islands in Dubai.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " It seems logical because it's easier to store Hydrogen than electricity, "

        No. At least electricity stays put in the battery (more or less). Hydrogen doesn't and anyone who believes hydrogen is easy to store in large quantities, has *no idea* of the problems involved.

        First of all: 1 kilo of H2 uses 12 cubic meters of volume. Increasing pressure reduces that, but on the other hand you'd need *tonnes* of it in store for it to be meaningful in any practical sense.

        Second problem: It doesn't stay in that volume long if you use any ordinary construction material, like steel. 1-2% *per week* is normal loss.

    2. skierpage

      Fortescue Future Industries in Australia plans to build gigawatts of solar, megawatts of electrolyzers, make 50,000 tons green hydrogen (0.1% of current dirty H2 used by industry) rising to Mt by 2030, maybe make ammonia or green methane with it, and ship the green fuel(s) vast distances. We'll see.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Fortescue Future Industries in Australia plans to build gigawatts of solar, megawatts of electrolyzers, "

        How much is the government giving them to do it?

        If they are privately financing the venture, I'd love to see their assumptions on how they will make it a paying business.

  21. naive

    Compliments to the British MP's

    When looking at the whole picture, H2 is not so great.

    Converting windmill generated H2 into a liquid form needing a pressure of 800 bar (11603 psi) introduces non-significant losses.

    Converting the existing network of gas stations to 700 bar pressurized (10152 psi) H2 gas stations will cost more than even Europe can afford, leaving out the significant costs for H2 installations in cars.

    The climate religion is used to sell us communism as savior against climate change. For instance, the EU announcement to ban petrol powered cars by 2035 is pure central planning of the economy, aka Communism. Be very afraid when politicians start turning specific technical solutions into laws, tossing human creativity and innovation out of the window until the next revolution.

    History proved over and over again that communism is never good for anything but being a source for misallocation of resources, poverty, misery, waste, pollution and death.

    Communist solutions for an imaginary issue are marketed with great success to elected politicians in the West, who attend G20 meetings with presentations from Schwab, Gates and other billionaires who envision a world where they took everything from everyone. Even WEF deniers will see their plan once they receive a letter from their community in the next ten years to please invest 100K in their house to get it to energy class XYZ .. or else.. The "or else" is selling your house to a company owned by one of the WEF billionaires who will happily rent it back to you... But hey... You own nothing but will be happy

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Compliments to the British MP's

      "For instance, the EU announcement to ban petrol powered cars by 2035 is pure central planning of the economy, aka Communism."

      California is talking about the same thing. It's not Communism as much as pandering to a certain cohort of voters. They're selling a fantasy of getting to zero carbon (less than net zero) production by just passing a law. Somehow industry will come up with a solution that people will be able to afford and afford in the not too distant future. The last time California tried this, they had to walk back the law since the GM EV-1 and Ford Ranger didn't have anywhere near the range to make them useful for enough of the population. Those that could use them were thrilled with having an EV they could charge at home. Cost is still a big factor. I still don't see a really big uptick in EV ownership until there is a vibrant used market. I'm not going to buy one new off the lot. It's an insane amount of depreciation as soon as the paperwork is signed and it becomes officially a "used" car.

  22. Detective Emil
    Flame

    It could be done … but should it?

    A long time ago, I had a rather well-paying summer job putting bodies on the fleet of trucks needed for the job of converting London from town/coal to natural/north sea gas. So the conversion could be done. Whether it should is a matter for heated (carbon-neutrally, natch) debate.

  23. Grunchy Silver badge

    Hydrogen is explosive

    But you look at any combustible fuel and it's always based on hydrogen. Methane combustion is CH4 + 2 O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O, it's fundamentally a hydrogen fuel.

    The trouble with pure H2 is it's a tiny wee molecule which wriggles its way out of any containment and into the grain structure of any kind of metal, leading to all sorts of brittle fracture and dangerous release. Just a tank sitting there is leaking trace hydrogen & possibly creating an explosive hazard, depending on whether there's some sort of trap for the H2 to accumulate.

    Me & my dog don't like hydrogen and explosive events. She barks fiercely when that happens! We don't like those guys.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Hydrogen is explosive

      "The trouble with pure H2 is it's a tiny wee molecule which wriggles its way out of any containment "

      Another very real problem is that it has an exceptionally wide explosive mixture range with oxygen, making it very touchy stuff to handle.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hydrogen is explosive

      "But you look at any combustible fuel and it's always based on hydrogen"

      ... and hydrogen is irrelevant part of the energy content (MJ/liter), it's literally like burning coal with some marginal additives.

  24. Josco

    Burn Water

    Never managed to understand basic chemistry and why water doesn't burn (Hydrogen & Oxygen - bloody flammable!)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Burn Water

      Hydrogen & Oxygen - bloody flammable

      Once you've heated water up enough to separate it into the two components, it is indeed. When you burn them, you get the same amount of heat back, so not very practical as an energy-producing process.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Burn Water

        "When you burn them, you get the same amount of heat back, so not very practical as an energy-producing process."

        In the real world, you don't get back what you put in. Nature is nasty about things like that. If it worked, Hydrogen would be a pretty good storage medium and beat other chemical storage approaches such as batteries.

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Burn Water

      Just add some alcohol and you get firewater. (quite popular actually).

      https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/firewater

      "A calque of a Native American language term, probably Ojibwe ishkodewaaboo (“alcohol”), from ishkodew- (“fire”) + -aaboo (“liquid”, glossed in older works as “water”). A number of other Algonquian and Siouan languages also refer to whiskey with compounds that mean "fire-water" (on which basis noted Algonquianist Leonard Bloomfield even reconstructed a Proto-Algonquian word for it, *eškwete·wa·po·wi, although this could not have existed). The motivation of the name is not entirely clear: It may refer to the “burning” feeling of ingesting high-proof alcohol.".

  25. G R Goslin

    A hydrogen fuel economy? Nothing new here.

    For probably more than a hundred years, Britain ran a domestic hydrogen sourced fuel supply system. It was called Coal Gas, or Town Gas. which ran to about 55% hydrogen. As a child, at the time, my greatest interest in it was that it was lighter than air, and if you could fill party balloons with the stuff, you could make your own. Unfortuantely, at the time, about the only thing with which to compress the gas to fill a party ballon, was a bicycle tyre pump and there was no way you could, as a child, modify it to do so. I did manage to produce raw hydrogen, by adding scrap aluminium to a solution of caustic soda. But caustic soda does terrible things to fabrics, skin, and many other materials.

  26. martinusher Silver badge

    Not a good fuel choice

    Hydrogen has to be created, using a lot of energy in the process, and its the very devil to store and manipulate because its molecules are so small they'll slip past practically anything. Its much better to combine it with something convenient, like carbon, to produce methane.

    Methane has two very big advantages. One is that as its naturally occurring we have to get rid of the stuff anyway because its a worse heat reflector than carbon dioxide. (I dont' like the term 'bigger greenhouse gas" or whatever) The other is that we already have a well established infrastructure for collecting, storing and distributing it. Sure, it releases carbon back into the atmosphere but then that's what plants are for -- they capture the carbon and release the oxygen. Its a natural cycle, all we humans have to do is stop pretending that we're capable of improving on it and work within it -- and its limitations.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Not a good fuel choice

      "Hydrogen has to be created, using a lot of energy in the process"

      It's more proper to say that Hydrogen has to be separated using a lot of energy. You'd really be on to something if you could create elements. Almost god-like.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Energy density for hydrogen is ~0, that's the problem.

    Hydrogen has several major problems and non-existent energy density is one of the worst.

    Hydrogen as fuel is in par with gasoline (octane, heptane), but that is not the problem. You'll need ~130 liters of fuel tank to hold about 100 kilos of fuel.

    For similar mass of hydrogen, you'll need 1 220 000 000 liters (or 1220 cubic meters) of fuel tank . *That's the problem*.

    Increasing the pressure to 100 bars drops a couple of zeros of that volume, but in the large picture it's meaningless: Energy density (J/liter) is, not only low, but meaningless.

    The other problem is that hydrogen leaks. It leaks a lot. 1-2% *per week* from a thick walled steel container is normal. Not only that, leakage creates hydrogen brittle into steel and eventually the container is brittle as glass and will explode nicely when you try to fill the container with cooled, pressurized hydrogen.

    Obviously commenters have no idea about metallurgy involved with hydrogen: It is *not pretty*.

  28. Colin Bain

    BOOM

    According to Knives Out - Glass Onion hydrogen can't be used because it would leak out of the pipes in home and create a national verson of the Hindenberg

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