A group of scientists, academics and engineers have come together to form the world’s first independent coalition on hydrogen’s role in the energy transition.
On 9 December, the Hydrogen Science Coalition was launched, with members pledging to volunteer their expertise to the media and policymakers in a bid to bring “concrete evidence” back into the hydrogen debate, which is free from industry bias. They will do this through briefings, access to data and media events.
The five founding members have diverse portfolios of hydrogen expertise, spanning chemical engineering, energy processing, decarbonisation heavy duty road transport, aviation and domestic heating. They are based in the UK, Germany and Netherlands and are planning to focus on the hydrogen policies of the UK and the EU.
As part of the launch, the coalition published a joint manifesto, detailing their central recommendations for policymakers, the first of which is that the only true zero emission hydrogen is made from renewable electricity – green hydrogen – and this is what governments should prioritise their support for. The first point of use for green hydrogen should be in hard to decarbonise sectors, starting where grey hydrogen is used today.
The coalition also warned that hydrogen should not be used to delay deploying electrification alternatives that are already available today, particularly in heating and transport. If hydrogen is considered more risky or expensive than already deployable alternatives, then, the experts stressed, it is not the best option and focusing on the wrong demand sectors for hydrogen could prove an expensive mistake. In contrast, prioritising electrification, energy efficiency and green hydrogen for heavy industries will bring jobs to both the UK and the EU.
As a final recommendation, the coalition explained that given how valuable green hydrogen is, blending it into the existing gas grid does not make sense, owed to it having a limited impact on emissions savings. With hydrogen-ready natural gas transmission pipelines not yet existing today and case studies finding that injecting 20% of green hydrogen into the existing natural gas pipelines will only result in around 7% of carbon emissions savings, the priority should be on areas where green hydrogen can have a significant, immediate impact.