Recently election times have unleashed a new populism of broaching the issue of Climate Action! Currently evolving for example among Austrian political parties, whereas the former cabinet leaders endeavor for lulling voters by holding out fancy Hydrogen Economy future scenarios based on extravagant lavishness of energy and water. All the fields of Hydrogen applications at the scopes represented add-up to about 50 times the existing contemporary „Grey – Hydrogen“ capacities. And with Innovators‘ pride they point at an Electrolysis Demonstration project for 1% additional „Green – Hydrogen“ from an electrolyser. Dubiously one gets the impression Hydrogen has been made tantamount to electrolysis. They contemplate it comes from excess electricity generation. The country actually has some, given its ~80% Renewable share, predominated by hydropower. However, being geologically gifted with good conditions precedent for pumped hydro storage power stations, 15% of the capacity are already used for storage. Introducing another 20% backup storage by Electrolysis Hydrogen would involve about 4 times the Hydrogen produced in the country today. Ways too little for the held out Decarbonization!
Most recently Hydrogen mobility was thrown into the public debate about adequateness of the former cabinet’s support programs for battery electric vehicles [BEV]. For who’s ever stakeholder interests, the Hydrogen for Fuel Cell Vehicles [HFCV] is also propagated to come from electrolysis. Hence every refueled HFCV will take charging power of 3 BEVs away! As Austria wants to become totally Clean and Green, some people seem to strive for bringing even more business to electrochemical plant and equipment industries by advocating E-Fuels (chemical synthesis of CO2 with Hydrogen from electrolysis)! Of course something technically doable, but definitively violating against the principles of frugality. Electricitywise E-Fuel takes up the recharging power of 6 BEVs per internal combustion vehicle [ICV] fuelled with it. In addition the need for about 5 liters of water per liter E-Fuel is concealed.
There of course is our former Prime Minister’s favorite exemplification of Climate Action: Austria’s steel mill causing 11% of the country’s CO2 emissions! Magically these are held out to be eliminated by transforming the process into a hot briqueted iron [HBI] production by direct Hydrogen reduction. Hence one fifth of all aspired Hydrogen applications will need to be allocated to that endeavor. Providing the steel mill‘s Hydrogen demand from electrolysis will already require a 50% increase of today’s nationwide net electricity generation by additional windmills an photovoltaics. Just this intended National Determined Contribution‘s [NDC] Climate relief would have been being requiring 2 new windmills to go on-line every day already since several months. In case locations allowing for such installations might not have available access to power-lines able to carry these contribution increments of the total 50% generation increase to the steel mill plant, the country’s bureaucracy would need to be overbearingly reformed very quickly to enable such relevant additional transmission lines.
Unfortunately nobody concedes biomass residues (incl. Household waste) allocated for energetic use representing regenerative Carbon – Hydrogen compounds. Given a considerable moisture content of such matter would allow refining them at 3 times higher Carbon Efficiency and only 20% water need then reforming oil. By doing so irrespectively of the foregoing, fossil Carbon could be substituted by regenerative Carbon! Hydrogen Power and Mobility can half the primary energy need! So regardless of where any primary energy carrier’s Carbon may come from, Carbon Efficiency could be doubled by refining such matter into chemically usable Hydrogen rather than using it for any combustibles. Nevertheless our former cabinet is proud of having prolongated subsidies for burning biomass. It‘s only half as Carbon efficient per energy yielded than for example Natural Gas would be! Hence if CO2 is relevant for climate, origin of Carbon makes no difference! It’s the absolute amount that should be taken into account – but isn’t under the wimsical European mantra of Carbon neutrality. Hence Austria is up to inefficiently burn its regenerative resources that could provide 85% of its „Green – Hydrogen“ aspirations of proponents advocating for extravagant electrolysis concepts squandering at least 7 times the CO2 abatement expenditures an equivalent frugal solution would cost. Whether by lack of knowledge or under obedience to some profiteering stakeholders from such lavishness at the cost of citizens having to pay for the next generations, is hard to tell. I wouldn’t ask this question, hadn’t I attempted to inform all relevant former cabinet members on Circular Carbon economics! Normally one would expect protégés of the country’s Eco-Social-Market Economy‘s pioneers to rather go for a model that can half people’s day-to-day cost and save the country’s foreign exchange flowing out for oil imports rather sooner than later.