The challenges presented with Hydrogen today
At the moment there are three key issues that need to be overcome for hydrogen to become more prominent:
- Significant financial investment is needed to take the hydrogen mix in our current systems beyond 20%.
- Supply – we do not currently have the capacity to produce enough hydrogen needed to sustainably fuel the UK’s heating.
- Hydrogen storage is currently an inefficient process with current technologies.
Solving Supply – Creating Hydrogen through Electrolysis
Just because we have some way to go to make hydrogen the de-facto choice of sustainable fuel, the benefits are great enough to find equitable solutions. For example…
The global shift to the use of battery power has been massive these past few years, with more EV cars being manufactured and the consumers appetite to be more sustainable. The irony here is that batteries have a limited lifespan, are extremely difficult to store, recycle and ultimately dispose of.
The manufacture of batteries also requires rare minerals and elements only sourced through extensive mining leading to significant negative environmental impact.
Additionally, with so many ways to create electricity such as photovoltaic systems, wind turbines and air source, at any one time, there can be surplus electricity that is difficult to store, while at others, there may not be enough electricity.
One solution could be to use spare electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis, use large gas tanks to store and as a result we would be using surplus electricity from a sustainable source as an excellent and efficient way of storing energy.
A Forward Perspective
There is a lot of movement towards hydrogen because the increased awareness that the current network itself cannot provide sufficient supply to power all electric homes.
The government have banned all sales of natural gas boilers from 2025. This doesn’t mean that they are banning gas boilers – but that all boilers manufactured from 2025 must be made so they can be converted for hydrogen use.
Economic rumblings suggest that commodity traders are already looking at hydrogen to be traded globally and fossil fuel heavy industries such as air-travel are even looking to transition to hydrogen-based fuels to drive commercial air travel.
More recently, media outlets have quoted the government as suggesting that the UK has the potential to become the Qatar of hydrogen energy.
Maybe that’s an optimistic perspective – but there is no denying that hydrogen could play a massive role in our sustainable future.