The chair of the UK’s largest hydrogen association has resigned saying blue hydrogen risks locking the country into fossil fuels.
Chris Jackson stepped down as chair of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (UKHFCA), just before the publication of the government’s hydrogen strategy earlier this week.
The strategy confirmed ministerial support for both blue hydrogen, made from methane with carbon capture and storage, and green hydrogen, from water using renewable electricity and regarded as more climate friendly.
In a statement to the trade publication H2 View, Mr Jackson said:
“I believe passionately that I would be betraying future generations by remaining silent on that fact that blue hydrogen is at best an expensive distraction, and at worst a lock-in for continued fossil fuel use that guarantees we will fail to meet our decarbonisation goals.”
Onshore gas companies, including as IGas and UKOG, are promoting projects to convert methane to hydrogen at their onshore sites.
Last year, IGas formed an operating agreement with BayoTech, which makes hydrogen production systems. It estimated that hydrogen produced at its site at Bletchingley could power 50-100 buses a day.
IGas said: “The proposal will facilitate the reduction of emissions that would otherwise be generated by diesel powered vehicles.”
But Mr Jackson, who is also chief executive of the green hydrogen company, Protium, said in his statement:
“Our industry is at a very important crossroad, one where the decisions we make will have long-lasting effects.
“I fully appreciate the energy transition cannot be achieved by one silver bullet, and green hydrogen alone cannot solve all the worlds challenges.
“Equally, I cannot ignore or make arguments for blue hydrogen being a viable and ‘green’ energy solution (a fact also validated by external studies).
“As chair of the UK HFCA, my role has been to represent the interests of all, even when I disagree. However, I feel I can no longer do this in good conscience.”
Earlier this month, Mr Jackson tweeted about the “code red” report on climate change from the IPCC:
If the world didn’t need another reminder that business as usual, with continued fossil fuel use was a total dereliction of our global responsibility to conserve, preserve and enhance this incredible planet for future generations…the @IPCC_CH reading is a good place to start https://t.co/FI4KGyueM6
— Christopher Jackson (@CJacksonProtium) August 10, 2021
Mr Jackson’s resignation came five days after publication of a peer-reviewed study which concluded that blue hydrogen could be 20% worse for the climate than burning natural gas or coal for heat.
Academics at Cornell and Stanford universities, writing in Energy Science and Engineering, said blue hydrogen needed large amounts of natural gas and, even with the most advanced carbon capture and storage technology, there would be “a significant amount of the carbon dioxide and methane emissions that won’t be caught”.
The government has said a combination of blue and green hydrogen was “consistent with reaching net zero”.
As part of the strategy, ministers are consulting on a low-carbon standard for blue hydrogen. They have not set out a vision for the future balance of green and blue hydrogen.
UKHFCA says it is the “oldest and largest pan UK association, dedicated to supporting stakeholders across the entire value chain of both the Hydrogen sector and the Fuel Cell industry”.
It was formed in 2010 following the merger of Fuel Cells UK and the UK Hydrogen Association. Iit has more than 70 members, including BP, BOC, Johnson Matthey and Rolls Royce,
Ruth Hayhurst will be reporting for DrillOrDrop from the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November