Green hydrogen not enough to save future of gas distribution

Gas burner

Green hydrogen has been touted as a way to bring down the emissions of the gas market as Australia and the world moves towards cleaner energy. But a new study from German think-tank Agorie Energiewende concludes it won’t be enough to save traditional gas distribution grids. 

The process of making green hydrogen does not rely on any fossil fuels, and thus it can provide a cleaner alternative to a number of existing gases. Uses for green hydrogen are still being further investigated, although it is being eyed to replace high-carbon fuels across the transport, heating and natural gas industries. 

While a number of governments around the world are getting on board, including New South Wales where it is hoped $3 billion of incentives will encourage up to $80 billion of investment in the state’s green hydrogen industry, it’s still early days for the fuel which hasn’t yet seen much deployment. 

Related: What is green hydrogen? Will we be using it soon?

Agorie Energiewende has indicated that while hydrogen has its place in industry, shipping and aviation, it may not be financially viable to bring it into households. 

According to the report, even introducing a 20% renewable hydrogen blend by volume into the gas grid would raise the price of wholesale gas by almost 33%, while only reducing emissions 7%. 

“Blending is insufficient to meet EU climate targets and carbon prices high enough to deliver hydrogen heating would be unacceptable for customers,” the report reads.

The study concludes that the near future will see much less gas than is currently used, and investment in distribution grids will continue to fall. While heating has been one utility green hydrogen has been eyed for, the authors of the report believe it will be used sparingly, likely as a back-up system for large heat loads. 

Regardless of the findings, governments around the world continue to research and invest in green hydrogen, searching for ways to bring it into our homes and vehicles as a clean fuel of the future.

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