Firstly, I wanted to take this opportunity to say I am appalled at the scenes unfolding in Eastern Europe that are causing so much unnecessary suffering to the Ukrainian people, I hope that a peaceful end to the invasion can be sought rapidly. The conflict has shocked the international energy markets and like the Covid-19 pandemic has distracted governments from the existential threat of climate change.
As we emerged from the pandemic, the promises made by governments were that we should rebuild our economies by focusing on the deployment of low carbon technologies, driving towards a carbon-neutral future and net zero by 2050. Although the desire to act is clearly palpable, carbon emissions continue to rise and in 2021, emissions rebounded to their highest level in history (reaching 36.3 billion tonnes, according to the IEA). This sobering report relates the cause of the spike to high natural gas prices leading to more coal being burned (despite renewable power generation registering its largest ever growth). Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will likely further exacerbate the requirement for coal power as sanctions are increased and the West moves away from Russian sources of natural gas thereby pushing carbon emissions higher still.
There are positive signs, however. On March 8 the EU published REPowerEU: Joint European Action for more affordable, secure and sustainable energy which strongly reaffirms the EU’s commitment to the clean energy transition. The underlying aim of the report is to provide a clear roadmap to reduce the EU’s dependance on Russian fossil fuels with the end of the decade being quoted as the maximum timeframe by which this needs to be achieved.
Some of the highlights for the hydrogen economy include:
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