Hydrogen: no technical considerations but geopolitics prevent its future use

In my newest blog post, I elaborate on the use of hydrogen. Hydrogen has many advantages (easy storage). However, to produce it, a lot of electricity is needed which can better be deployed directly. The import of hydrogen from countries where the production of electricity is much cheaper is a feasible solution. But as the countries most eager to export hydrogen are the Gulf states, many doubts are arousing.....
A slightly different version in Dutch can be found here: https://hmjvandenbosch.com/2018/12/17/waterstof-vooral-geopolitiek-bepaalt-toekomstige-rol%EF%BB%BF/

http://smartcityhub.com/technology-innnovation/hydrogen-and-the-city/

One person thinks this is smart

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Herman van den Bosch's picture
Herman van den Bosch

Hi Gerald, I'm in a position that is comparable with yours. My gas powered heating system broke down and I made inquiries to replace it and to go for a 100% electric solution (preach what you teach;-) This appeared to be impossible, even if I spent many tens of thousands at isolation. Fortunately, the heating system could be repaired with second-hand parts. So, if I could vote personally, hydrogen would be my favourite. But from a more remote point of view I think that we need a neighbourhood-centred approach, preferably with some options for choice. And I will read the WRR report that you mentioned.
Have nice Chrismas days and a well-heated new year.

gerald lindner's picture
gerald lindner

Thanks for the very interesting Link. Offcourse I have some remarks :). The beauty is indeed that there is not one single solution but an intelligent and dynamically evolving, changing, mix of solutions. An open and honest critical discussion without dogmas or powerplay is of vital importance for society to move forward smartly. And THAT is unfortunately NOT really happening.

For my own house here in Amsterdam (kashuis) I am going for 100% solar (with a thermal heat battery). Knowing what this takes I realise that this solution is relatively too expensive, labour and space consuming to be applied to millions of Dutch homes within a very short timespan. (yet is by far the best long-term solution:). I also know people are risk and thus change-averse (WRR has a great report on this https://www.wrr.nl/publicaties/publicaties/2010/02/07/hoe-mensen-keuzes-maken). Add the huge lack of skilled labour then a system of simply replacing the natural gas boiler by a home micro - wkk condensing H2gas boilers (+ a non-invasive smart grid) seems to me far more realistic.

Herman van den Bosch's picture
Herman van den Bosch

By the way...
I looked at the HYDRO website. A litthe bit self-congratulatoy..... But I know that my former colleague Jepma is also in favor for hydrogen that is directly produced in wind mills. This article dives deeply into its costs: http://www.wattisduurzaam.nl/15443/energie-beleid/tien-peperdure-misverstanden-over-wondermiddel-waterstof/
I feel unable to comment on it, but I hope that the debate on hydrogen will not end in a one-dimensional plea for its blessings, neglecting the less favorable aspects, all departing from our still limited knowledge. Because each energy source we are thinking of, has advantages and disadvantages.

Herman van den Bosch's picture
Herman van den Bosch

We will have to look for a balanced picture, where sun and wind energy, hydrogen and geothermal all contribute in a degree nobody can anticipate yet.
You are right that upgrading the electricity grid ought te be prevented.Hopefully smart grids, in combination with locally collected sun enengy, will be solve this proble,.
As I wrote, deployment of hydrogen defenitely is a mayor contribution to our energy need in the future.. We only will have to accept that hydrogen is imported from countries that can produce cheap electricity. In that case hydrogen will be an excellent partial alternative for natural gas, especially in unsufficiently isolated houses.
By the way, hydrogen is an excellent medium for long-term storage too.

gerald lindner's picture
gerald lindner

“electricity […] can better be deployed directly’. In theory yes, a. if it could get to the homes and b. if it is needed directly.

But the moment you take the whole chain (generation, buffering, transport, end conversion) into consideration a very different picture arises.

In the Netherlands 90% of all the households are already connected to the gas-grid whereas it will cost tens of billions to heavily upgrade the electricity grid. Then there is the very problematic issue of electricity storage. Most of it is generated when we don’t need it. A lot can be said about electric batteries, even in mobility. Hydrogen is again here, by far, the more effective solution.

And as for it generation, there are many great solutions already out there, like Hygro, just waiting for the green light of our policy makers. They are the only real problem.

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