In a brand new greenwashing scheme, gasoline corporations need to add hydrogen to their gasoline provide. Not solely is that this unhealthy for the local weather — it poses big dangers to well being and security.
The pure gasoline trade has cooked up an much more harmful product to push into our properties. A number of utilities, from SoCalGas in Los Angeles to Nationwide Grid in Massachusetts, have introduced plans to mix hydrogen with their pure gasoline provide. Some even declare they will convert gas-powered energy vegetation to burn hydrogen.
Nevertheless, Meals & Water Watch’s latest analysis reveals how introducing hydrogen to the notoriously leaky pure gasoline system can be disastrous. Not solely would it not pose main well being and security dangers, however it will additionally value ratepayers dearly to adapt gasoline infrastructure for hydrogen.
Regardless of gasoline firm claims that hydrogen is “clear,” virtually all of the hydrogen we use really comes from pure gasoline. What’s extra, hydrogen manufacturing strategies are worse for the local weather than burning gasoline alone.
These hydrogen schemes solely distract from a easy actuality: we don’t want the pure gasoline trade (with or with out hydrogen) as a result of renewable electrical energy has made the trade out of date.
Be taught extra within the full report, “Hydrogen in Our Houses: A Harmful Pipe Dream.”
Hydrogen Is the Good Excuse for Extra Pure Fuel
Over the previous few years, the hype over hydrogen has grown. In 2020 and 2021, utilities introduced greater than 26 pilot tasks so as to add hydrogen to their pure gasoline methods. Plans vary from promoting a scant 5% hydrogen combination to fully changing gasoline with pure hydrogen.
Many proponents declare that hydrogen made with renewable vitality will make their tasks clear. However as of 2020, 99% of the hydrogen produced within the U.S. got here from fossil fuels.
What’s worse, burning hydrogen produced from fossil fuels — even when paired with carbon seize and storage — emits extra than simply burning pure gasoline.
Mixing small quantities of hydrogen into the gasoline provide, even when it had been produced with renewable electrical energy, would do little to sluggish local weather change. A 5% mix of hydrogen reduces gasoline use by solely 2%, as burning hydrogen produces much less vitality than burning methane.
So why exchange gasoline with hydrogen in any respect? By claiming that they are going to ultimately change to hydrogen, utilities can sq. new pure gasoline vegetation with emissions targets.
For instance, Duke Power plans to construct 2,000 megawatts-worth of latest gas-fired vegetation, regardless of its pledge to succeed in “carbon neutrality” by 2050. Duke claims that the change to hydrogen will assist it obtain these targets.
The Rickety Fuel Grid Can’t Deal with Hydrogen
The gasoline trade promotes hydrogen to protect its gasoline infrastructure, however little of that infrastructure is value saving. That is significantly true of the distribution pipelines that deliver gasoline into properties.
Most U.S. gasoline distribution mains are many years previous and vulnerable to leaking. Native distribution pipes in giant metropolitan areas leak as a lot as 6% of the gasoline they carry.
House home equipment, like water heaters and gasoline stoves, additionally leak. Fuel stoves emit unburned methane even once they’re turned off. Actually, about 0.8 to 1.3% of the gasoline piped right into a range escapes.
This doesn’t bode nicely for introducing hydrogen into the combo. Small hydrogen molecules leak at about three to 5 occasions the speed of methane. Furthermore, piping hydrogen requires extra strain, which can worsen leakage. Hydrogen also can harm pipelines, growing the chance of cracks and ruptures.
Leakage can undermine hydrogen’s claimed local weather advantages, because it’s a potent greenhouse gasoline in its personal proper. Emitted hydrogen has 33 occasions the local weather affect of CO2 over 20 years.
Hydrogen Is Too Harmful for House Use
On high of its bogus local weather claims, hydrogen additionally poses well being and security dangers. Hydrogen is 14 occasions as flammable as pure gasoline. Static electrical energy, friction, warmth, and electrical fields can all ignite it. Furthermore, hydrogen can burn backward into pipes, creating high-pressure explosions that may throw shrapnel and even destroy buildings.
Like pure gasoline, hydrogen is colorless and odorless — however not like gasoline, we don’t have any odorants that may journey with hydrogen to warn us of leaks.
Hydrogen could also be significantly dangerous in growing older home equipment, that are much less more likely to work with a hydrogen mix. One examine discovered that family home equipment would wish “important modifications” to be suitable with hydrogen blends like these deliberate by utilities. Poorly adjusted and maintained home equipment can not deal with any degree of hydrogen mixing.
Burning “Clear Hydrogen” Has Severe Flaws
As an alternative of hydrogen mixing, some corporations suggest burning pure hydrogen for vitality. Whereas gasoline cells can convert hydrogen to electrical energy, these corporations would moderately use generators. However generators operating on pure hydrogen are within the earliest phases of growth. They’re removed from able to energy our vitality grid.
Nonetheless, companies are gunning for generators as a result of they need “gasoline flexibility”— in different phrases, they need to hold utilizing pure gasoline.
Even when they did persist with hydrogen, generators bleed vitality. Fuel generators powered by renewables-based hydrogen lose greater than 71% of the vitality that goes into them. Examine that to mechanical and battery storage methods, which generally lose solely 15-25% of the vitality they retailer.
Burning “clear” hydrogen additionally poses dire well being dangers, reminiscent of nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions. These dangerous pollution, precursors to particulate matter and ozone, are additionally emitted by burning gasoline. However burning pure hydrogen and hydrogen blends will increase NOx emissions above these of gasoline alone.
Hydrogen Is an Costly Distraction
If utility monopolies get their means, we’ll pay a excessive worth for these local weather, well being, and security issues. For one, constructing the infrastructure to assist proposed hydrogen energy would come at an exorbitant value.
Take pipelines. Proper now, the U.S. has simply 1,500 miles of hydrogen pipelines, in comparison with the hundreds of thousands of miles of pure gasoline pipelines. However even slender hydrogen pipelines value greater than $1 million per mile.
Along with pipeline prices, adapting energy vegetation for hydrogen will seemingly be massively costly. Utilizing simply 30% hydrogen might increase prices for energy vegetation by $6.89 to 11.62 per megawatt hour, however it will solely cut back CO2 emissions by 4.8 to 11%. This makes renewable solar energy wherever from 1.7 to six.7 occasions extra cost-effective than hydrogen at lowering emissions.
To make issues worse, utilities plan for these prices to fall on us ratepayers. They will solely afford these prices by passing the worth (plus revenue) on to vitality payments.
Fortunately, there’s no want for brand spanking new hydrogen or gasoline infrastructure. We will simply exchange pure gasoline with electrification in our buildings. Furthermore, commercially obtainable renewable and storage know-how can present 100% renewable, 24/7 dependable electrical energy to properties.
We will’t let gasoline corporations take the wheel on our vitality transition. In the event that they’re allowed to maneuver ahead with hydrogen plans, they are going to value us our well being, our wallets, and our local weather. We have to demand an finish to gasoline and a transition to renewable electrical energy.
Our family and friends must know this: Don’t fall for the hydrogen hype!
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