Hydrogen has generated a lot of interest as a zero- or low-carbon fuel. However, much of the hydrogen hype relies on false claims – for example, incorrectly stating that hydrogen is an emission-free source of energy when burned when, in fact, hydrogen combustion releases high amounts of harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx). To combat this sort of misinformation, and equip advocates, regulators, and policymakers with non-biased facts to counter irresponsible industry proposals, Clean Energy Group has developed a repository of research and information on the viability and issues related to the production and use of hydrogen. In addition to in-depth research and reporting, CEG is working in partnership with environmental justice advocates and community-based organizations to push back against hydrogen projects and proposals impacting frontline communities.
In addition to a broad campaign to inform advocates, policymakers, and media about the implications of hydrogen in the power sector, CEG is pursuing research and advocacy on hydrogen through these main avenues:
- Collaboration with Frontline Organizations: CEG has been working with frontline communities to shut down polluting fossil-fuel plants impacting environmental justice community through our Phase Out Peakers project. Many of these same power plants are now turning to hydrogen combustion as a carbon-reducing measure to continue operations in these communities. CEG is working with environmental justice advocates to ensure that these sorts of false solutions are shut down before they are allowed to expose frontline communities to decades of additional NOx exposure.
- Public Health Ramifications: CEG is exploring the public health impacts of the heavy NOx emissions potential of hydrogen combustion schemes. In partnership with public health academics, we have investigated the potential for NOx emissions from proposed hydrogen repowering and blending plans, and the health impacts these emissions will cause in the surrounding community.
- Technical Feasibility: CEG has researched the current state of the art of hydrogen combustion technology. This research examines current emissions control technologies to address the high NOx emissions potential of hydrogen when combusted, as well as a feasible timeline of development for improved controls. This research can help inform policy proposals for responsible hydrogen use and inform any guidance we provide to environmental justice advocacy groups.
- Renewable Energy Diversion: CEG is evaluating the impacts hydrogen production will have on renewable energy generation and use. Green hydrogen is produced through electrolysis, an incredibly inefficient process. With current electrolyzers, green hydrogen’s round-trip efficiency, from production to combustion, is around 30 percent, meaning you only get 30 percent of the energy out that you put in. This energy usage has the potential to divert renewable energy that could be better used replacing existing fossil fuels.