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Hydrogen blending debate reopens; Report raises hydrogen safety and emission concerns
Hydrogen blending debate reopens; Report raises hydrogen safety and emission concerns

Hydrogen blending debate reopens; Report raises hydrogen safety and emission concerns

The PSR report, Hydrogen Pipe Dreams: Why Burning Hydrogen in Buildings is Bad for Climate and Health, identified that the use of grey or blue hydrogen could exceed greenhouse gas  (GHG) emissions from methane or coal, due to “essentially no commercially available green (zero-emissions) hydrogen”.

Andee Krasner, MPH Lead Author and Programme Manager for Climate Health for Greater Boston PSR, said, “The vast majority of hydrogen in the US is produced using polluting fossil fuels like methane and coal. Piping hydrogen into homes would increase greenhouse gas emissions and health risks, while delaying the transition to homes that run on renewable electricity.”

Additionally, according to the PSR report, hydrogen used in gas pipelines can lead to larger leaks, further contributing to increases in GHG emissions. Earlier this year (2022), Tenaris reported its medium and large diameter pipeline had allowed 100% hydrogen to be transported at 200 bar.

Phillipe Darcis, Senior Director Pipeline Technology at Tenaris, said, “Due to the susceptibility of steel to hydrogen embrittlement the pipeline material needs to be qualified to demonstrate its readiness for hydrogen transportation and the new standards and guidelines require specific characterisations in gaseous hydrogen environments.”

Read more: Tenaris pipeline now capable of transporting 100% hydrogen at 200 bar

The report has also identified safety risks with how flammable hydrogen has proven, which could lead to increased danger of explosions in buildings. Writing for H2 View in 2021, Stephen Harrison, Managing Director of sbh4 GmbH, also recognised the risk hydrogen ignition posed, however remained positive there were tools to mitigate the risk.

Harrison wrote, “With appropriate measures such as risk assessment, HAZOP, and the implementation of appropriate mitigating actions, like gas detection, the risks associated with hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and utilisation can be minimised. Safety across the full hydrogen value chain can be improved with appropriate gas detection sensors.”

Read more:  Rapid response, robust, low concentration sensor sets new safety benchmark

PSR also found that even green hydrogen would prove inefficient for heating and cooking, with the report stating heat pumps are more efficient than green hydrogen. The report read, “Delivering electricity generated by a renewable energy source and using it directly for heating and cooking is far more efficient than using renewable energy to make green hydrogen to then blend with methane and burn to heat buildings or cook food.”

This was an argument at the centre of debate at the FT Live Hydrogen Summit on June 16, although members of the panel identified, that green hydrogen for heating could play a significant role in the energy transition.

David Watson, Head of Energy Transition at Cadent Gas, told the summit, “I think that what you’ll find is for some consumers, it will absolutely make sense to a heat pump installed. But for other consumers, it will be prohibitively expensive and for them in order to hit Net Zero we will need to have the option of hydrogen.”

Read more:  Is hydrogen for heating dead? Questions raised at the FT Live Hydrogen Summit

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