The following is a posting from the UK Telegraph by Christopher Booker. He pretty well summarizes the inanity of this proposal to replace natural gas (primarily methane) with hydrogen. Brooker does a nice job of pointing the flaws in this scheme. The Government group that funded this study apparently did not recognize that much of the energy in the methane would be lost in the conversion to hydrogen. They should have recognized all of the fatal flaws. And just think that paid £300,000 for a study that any engineer would recognized from the beginning to be a non-starter. From Booker’s posting:
Some publicity has alighted on the latest brilliant idea from the “greenies” as to how we can comply with the Climate Change Act by “decarbonising” our economy. Ofgem paid £300,000 for a study suggesting that, instead of cooking with CO2-emitting natural gas, we should switch to carbon-free hydrogen. A £2 billion pilot project for Leeds would show how natural gas, or methane, could be converted to hydrogen by piping away all its nasty CO2 to be buried in holes under the North Sea.
This scheme has already been smiled on in principle by the green zealots of the Committee on Climate Change, run by Lord Deben (aka John Gummer), their only real reservation being that it would be rather expensive. But there are one or two other practical problems that would have to be taken into account. One is that the technology to bury the CO2 under the North Sea has not yet been invented, and probably never will be. Another is that, extrapolating from the £2 billion needed to convert 320,000 homes in Leeds by requiring them all to buy new cookers, the cost of extending the scheme across Britain could be a staggering £162 billion.
A third is that, thanks to the absence of carbon, the calorific value of hydrogen in volumetric terms is so much lower than that of methane that we would need very much more of it. A fourth is that the molecules of hydrogen are so tiny that they would escape through any minute crack in the pipework, potentially requiring complete replacement of all gas mains. A fifth is that hydrogen is so inflammable – it has the highest Category 1 industrial risk rating – that, inevitably, it would lead to some rather nasty explosions, bringing the scheme to an abrupt end.
But the really worrying question this raises is why the Government should allow its chief adviser on such matters to be a Committee on Climate Change so technically illiterate that it could not immediately have recognised all this for itself?