‘Green hydrogen too expensive to break through’
Despite high expectations in politics, green hydrogen, generated with sustainable energy, will not break through as a fuel, for the time being. It costs too much to produce it, and the costs seem to be rising rather than falling.
Blue or green hydrogen
Hydrogen has been a dream alternative to natural gas from Groningen for many years and is mentioned in the Climate Agreement, among other things. If the Netherlands wants to use the fuel quickly to supply vehicles, power stations, and the chemical sector, it will have to use ‘blue’ hydrogen.
This is made from natural gas, of which the released greenhouse gas CO2 will be stored in the ground. This is more affordable, more feasible, and also relatively clean compared to green hydrogen, which is generated with electricity from wind farms or solar parks.
Free green electricity?
Professor Machiel Mulder and researcher Peter Perey of the RuG expect that there will not be enough cheap green electricity available for the production of hydrogen. The price of green electricity will, therefore, not fall for the time being and may even rise, while cheap electricity is needed to produce enough hydrogen.
Proponents of hydrogen believe that green electricity will become cheaper, or even free of charge. Energy companies might be able to produce hydrogen from the surplus of electrical power. However, wind farm owners are not going to produce without demand at all. They are more likely to shut down their wind turbines than let them run at a loss.
Major greenhouse gas source
The chemical industry only points at the enormous need: hydrogen is already being used on a large scale, for example, to desulphurize fuels. This gas is now produced by splitting natural gas and releasing carbon dioxide directly into the atmosphere, making Dutch hydrogen production one of the country’s largest greenhouse gas sources.
According to the economists, blue hydrogen is still relatively expensive. Depending on the situation, storing CO2 in the soil costs between 29 euros and 85 euros per ton of CO2. This is more expensive than releasing the gas into the atmosphere, which costs only 25 euros per ton in Europe.
Bad news for the car industry
This is also bad news for the car industry, which is hoping to replace the battery of an electric car with a fuel cell that converts hydrogen into electricity to power the electric motor. At the moment, both Toyota and Hyundai have a hydrogen model on the market. The Belgian bus builder Van Hool also uses this technology.