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Blue hydrogen, the one made by reforming natural gas using carbon capture, would be a more cost-effective solution for the EU compared to the so-called green hydrogen made from water electrolysis using renewable electricity, environmental organization Clean Air Task Force (CATF) said in a new report on Tuesday.
The European Union’s renewables strategy includes the ambition to produce 10 million tons and import 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen in the EU by the end of this decade.
The EU’s target remains challenging and should be reassessed, CATF said in the report.
“Europe should re-examine its hydrogen demand forecasts to develop realistic estimates,” the organization said, commenting on the policy implications of the results of the study.
CATF has commissioned Houston-based consulting firm KBR Inc to model the cost of different pathways for delivering low-carbon hydrogen from likely producing regions to Europe’s largest seaport, the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
“The analysis focuses on blue hydrogen because the greater technological maturity and lower cost of this production method mean that it has the potential to scale more rapidly than ‘green hydrogen’ produced via electrolysis,” Magnolia Tovar, CATF's Global Director of Zero-Carbon Fuels, wrote.
The cost analysis concluded that transporting low-carbon hydrogen by sea presents significant hurdles due to hydrogen’s inherent physical properties.
Moreover, CATF suggests that transporting LNG to Europe and using it to produce hydrogen at the point of import – with low-carbon energy inputs, strict methane emissions control, and CCS – “will likely be more feasible and cost-effective than importing low-carbon hydrogen from distant suppliers.”
“Given the enormity of the challenge, public policy must be carefully designed to prioritise the most cost-effective technologies and to prevent spending public funding on expensive infrastructure investments that could lead to inefficient and ineffective methods of decarbonisation,” CATF's Tovar notes.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com