The UK government’s focus on blue hydrogen and its “twin-track” approach to hydrogen production was unwelcomed by many in this industry, including the chair of the UK Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association (UK HFCA), Christopher Jackson, who stepped down as he believes blue hydrogen could continue fossil fuel use and disrupt the country’s climate goals.
The UK HFCA said it supports the government’s aim of building 5 GW of low-carbon hydrogen capacity by 2030, including green and blue hydrogen. However, Jackson, who is also the CEO and founder of green hydrogen and fuel cell project developer Protium Green Solutions, said he could no longer chair the UK HFCA and be a neutral party on the topic of blue hydrogen.
“The energy transition cannot be achieved by one silver bullet, and green hydrogen alone cannot solve all the world’s challenges. But while there might not be a single right answer, there are answers that are wrong. And as many of you will be aware, it remains my deep personal conviction that one of those wrong answers is blue hydrogen,” Jackson noted.
His comments come hot on the heels of research published by Cornell and Stanford universities in the US, finding that the carbon footprint of creating blue hydrogen is more than 20% greater than using either natural gas or coal directly for heat, or about 60% greater than using diesel oil for heat.
“I believe passionately that I would be betraying future generations by remaining silent on that fact that blue hydrogen is at best an expensive distraction, and at worst a lock-in for continued fossil fuel use that guarantees we will fail to meet our decarbonisation goals,” Jackson said.
Blue hydrogen is produced from fossil gas in combination with carbon capture and storage technologies. Jackson also recommended a focus on green hydrogen, which he believes will play an essential role in ensuring the decarbonisation of the UK economy’s hardest to abate sectors of energy demand. Green hydrogen is made via electrolysis from renewable power and water, a process that is 100% CO2-free.
“I fervently believe that without green hydrogen, we are guaranteeing that the world will fail in its efforts to prevent temperature rises above 1.5 degrees by 2050.”