…Europe’s Hydrogen Fantasy An Admission of Failure…
An appendix in The Looming Energy Crisis provides an overview of Europe’s hydrogen strategy.
Two additional considerations need to be examined.
- Hydrogen storage
- Cost of energy
The physical properties of hydrogen compared with natural gas may have an effect on where hydrogen can be stored. Just as hydrogen’s smaller mass allows it to slip through the walls of plastic pipe, it may allow it to escape from some forms of storage.
There are three methods for underground storage of natural gas, and the European hydrogen strategy assumes that existing natural gas storage facilities can be used to store hydrogen.
- Salt domes
- Depleted oil/gas reservoirs
According to a study by the Department of Energy (DOE), salt domes are probably a secure way to store hydrogen. There is the possibility, however, that hydrogen could attack steel fixtures, e.g., piping connected to the salt dome, with hydrogen embrittlement.
DOE reported that aquifers are similar in geology to depleted reservoirs, but have not been proven they can trap hydrogen. Aquifers must be studied and proven to be able to store hydrogen safely before they can be used to store hydrogen.
Depleted oil/gas reservoirs
A study by TU Clausthal, Department of Hydrogeology, Institute of Disposal Research, Leibnizstrasse 10, 38678 Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany, concluded that underground storage of hydrogen in depleted gas fields (and aquifers) entails the risk of hydrogen loss (and related energy loss) by bacterial conversion to CH4 and H2S and gas–water–rock interactions, which in turn lead to changes in the porosity of the reservoir rock.
Thus far, the European hydrogen strategy has not distinguished between these storage types.
At this point, it’s not clear whether there is sufficient existing salt dome storage and whether new storage capacity must be built.
A Fatal Flaw in Europe’s Hydrogen Strategy
The European hydrogen strategy assumed that hydrogen will be produced in Northern Europe using offshore wind installations, and from Northern Africa and the Mideast using PV solar installations.
The hydrogen produced from North Africa and the Mideast would be imported into Europe through pipelines.
Hydrogen from the Arab countries could provide 50% of Europe’s energy needs.
Currently no country controls Europe’s energy needs. Russia provides one-third of Europe’s natural gas, and around 27% of its oil, but no more than 30% of its total energy needs.
And Europe has alternative sources of energy supply if needed.
The fallacy in the European hydrogen strategy is that the Arab countries producing the hydrogen using PV solar, may not sell the hydrogen to Europe at the cut rate price the Europeans are assuming.
It’s more likely that these countries will form another cartel like OPEC, and charge Europe a high price for the energy Europe needs.
And Europe will have no alternative source of hydrogen making it captive to whatever the Arab countries wish to charge.
Europe’s hydrogen strategy is fraught with dangers.
The Looming Energy Crisis, examines hydrogen as an alternative to natural gas and provides explicit reasons why hydrogen is not an alternative to natural gas.
Europe’s hydrogen strategy is actually an admission that it has failed to cut CO2 emissions enough to have any effect on global warming and climate change.
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