Hydrogen: why do we need it?

Turn on the TV, the radio or just go online these days and all that you will hear or see is about coronavirus and with good reason of course. But before the world went into lockdown, all we heard about was Climate Change, the “Greta Generation”, Extinction Rebellion and how we must all produce fewer emissions to cut our carbon production.

Also, air pollution is a global concern and a serious worry to longer-term public health, second only to the immediate nature of Covid-19. In industrialised and developing countries, the emissions from vehicles are the biggest contributor to the poor air quality in cities and towns, look how much the air quality has improved since transport, industry, and flying have been reduced by the current pandemic. Looking back to the end of 2018, China had already overtaken the US to become the world’s largest producer of CO2 emissions with energy production the biggest industry polluter of them all. Is it any wonder that we are striving to find alternative green energy for our future and if fossil fuels are the biggest polluter surely, it’s a good thing that they are in finite supply?

What can we use hydrogen for?

We are seeing more use of hydrogen to decarbonise our need for heat, electricity, and transport. But think about the bigger picture, what else needs fuel? Forklift trucks, airport ground support equipment, agricultural machinery, and construction equipment, all of which currently use carbon-emitting diesel, can be converted to use hydrogen. Mobile generators can be powered by hydrogen, reducing not only the harmful emissions but also noise emissions. What about heating and powering your home? Boiler manufacturers Worcester Bosch, Baxi, and Vaillant have already launched hydrogen-ready boilers and utility infrastructure provider Cadent is working on a pilot to inject hydrogen into the gas network to fuel our homes, whilst Northern Gas Networks is urging cooker manufacturers to make products hydrogen-ready as well.

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