Focus

The focus of GH24EU is on promoting the fast development of hydrogen produced only from renewable electricity. This differentiates it from other organisations. These other groups promote both green hydrogen and hydrogen produced from natural gas combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS) to sequester the CO2 that is a by-product of this process. This leads to mixed messages and confused policy recommendations.

Approach

The founders of Green Hydrogen for Europe have been active in hydrogen projects for a number of years. They take a practical engineering-based approach towards hydrogen deployment. It is proposed to extend this to the activities of GH24EU. Such an approach is informed by asking seemingly simple questions, such as:

  • What works from an engineering point of view for a given green hydrogen deployment?
  • Can this be generalised and applied to a sector?
  • What do business cases look like for a given application/technology?
  • Who are the counterparties? (i.e. the ones that buy green hydrogen)
  • What is the urgency – how soon does Europe need to move to large-scale implementation?

Expressing the above in terms used by Van Quine1:

  • What is there? (ontology)
  • How do you know? (epistemology)
  • Why should I? (or “why shouldn’t I?”)

As van Quine noted, these important questions are regularly asked by 4-year-old children. Well-formulated questions and a forensic approach will, as Wittgenstein2 noted, lead to answers. Unfortunately, the posing of such questions and their corresponding answers are often missing from policy development with respect to green hydrogen.

Shown below are examples of using this approach when applied to sets of phrases which fall into the class of “conventional wisdom” as defined by J.K. Galbraith3 in the Affluent Society.

Example 1

Green hydrogen can help decarbonise some difficult to decarbonise industry sectors, but its use will need to be limited due to lack of renewable resource in Europe.

  • How much renewable resource does Europe have? – enough to provide electricity for normal use and hydrogen production?
  • How does the business case look for accessing this resource?  – need for subsidies – or not?
  • What problems does the electricity sector face with the growth of renewables? – the zero marginal cost problem and “let’s export the surplus”
  • How are current electricity markets coping with rising levels of renewables – the zero marginal cost problem and “let’s export the surplus”
  • In what way can green hydrogen address these problems? – just a decarbonisation energy vector, or something more?

Example 2

Space heat in Europe should be powered by heat pumps supplied by renewable electricity. Heat pumps are very efficient and can deliver 3 units of heat for each unit of electricityHydrogen in this scenario has no role to play.

  • Can existing electricity networks support new electrical loads such as heat pumps?
  • How do you know that such networks can support such loads?
  • If they cannot, what remedial actions need to be taken?
  • If demand response is one of those actions – how do you know it works?
  • If other actions such as network reinforcement is needed, is this action feasible both from an available resources point of view and time?
  • What about the impact of other new loads on electricity networks such as electric vehicles?
  • How are electricity networks managing embedded generation such as residential PV?

1. Van Quine – 1969 Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. Columbia Univ. Press. ISBN 0-231-08357-2. Contains chapters on ontological relativitynaturalized epistemology, and natural kinds.

2. Wittgenstein – Philosophical Investigations.

3. Galbraith – The Affluent Society.