One analysis of government data shows that the use of ‘blue’ hydrogen could result in up to 8 million tons of CO2 emissions per year by 2050 – the year that most governments have set to be entirely carbon-free.
This estimated amount is the equivalent of the emissions of 1 million petrol-powered cars, as opposed to ‘green’ hydrogen, which is found to produce zero emissions.
The plan proposed by ministers in the UK is to use blue hydrogen alongside its green variety in an aim to completely replace natural gas in refineries, heating, and in factories. However, as new figures suggest, blue hydrogen emissions could add up to millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Blue Hydrogen Impact
The process of extracting blue hydrogen from natural gas involves trapping CO2 with the help of carbon capture technology. However, this process has been unsuccessful in capturing between 5% and 15% of emissions and, in fact, leads to more CO2 being released when the extraction takes place from oil and gas fields.
As a result, replacing natural gas with it would be the equivalent of adding another 1.5 million petrol cars to the road every year from the late 2020s until 2050.
If the government were to use green hydrogen to meet the country’s hydrogen demand, that number would come down to 1 million cars per year – still an extremely high number.
Currently, the UK’s climate change strategy has not defined the proportion of blue to green hydrogen, which is largely what is raising concern among climate activists. Furthermore, the government’s own climate advisors are calling for that proportion to be in favor of the zero-carbon green hydrogen by the late 2030s, in order for the UK carbon emissions to equate to net zero.