Of course Energy is a big business and there are very strong interests to keep it as geopolitical as it has been over the last century. While the USA took control overt the oil-business by installing the Bretton Woods System, Russia introduced Nuclear Power just a decade later and led to installation of the International Atomic Energy Organisation head quartered in Vienna to ensure safety standards and peaceful use of Technology only. Both fields are under quite strict controls of superpowers reacting very rigorous when countries try to take their (energy or trade) independence.
Natural Gas has been first recognized in China about 2,000 years ago but made its way into the world economy as a by-product from oil exploitation. It’s actually the fossil hydrocarbon energy carrier of the highest Hydrogen to Carbon ratio and hence burns at the lowest specific CO2 emission per energy yield. Originally a strategic strength of Russia its exploration became probably globally the most distributed commodity. That kept Natural Gas prices most competitive recently and its growing availability could put oil markets under pressure. Natural Gas is 87-98% Methane in volume being Nature‘s heir of any end of life matter‘s residual energy.
Recently a time-spirit for so called clean and I‘d rather say ubiquitous than renewable energies spreading a lot of hope for future energy independence way down to individual communities. The reservation cited with regards to their cleanliness refers to materials used in or in conjunction with them. As great as they are within their operational sweet-spots, attempts to overcome their volatility downsides by a more of the same approach deems dubious in the first place. Consequently any attempts to use Hydrogen Electrolysis as a bridge across those insufficiencies on a large scale will become very dear. And sooner or later these endeavors will reach comprehension that by then created assets could best be saved by a Renaissance of Nuclear Power.
However, enthusiasm for reviving windmill Technologies first surfaced 2,500 years ago in Persia as well as for the black-magic of Photo Voltaic in very tough competition against fossil thermo-power plants may have derailed into current demonization of any carbonaceous energy carrier. Denying Carbon as the backbone of any life or ceased matter energy that we should rather use more than once but lose tragically by destruction or negligence. Hence if there was a problem with Carbon it‘s rather its anthropogenic management than the element itself. Most ridiculous for example the hypocrisy of so called decarbonization not engaging into managing circulating terrestrial Carbon effectively at all.
Whether we‘re talking about regenerative or fossil Methane, for every cubic meter not geared towards highest achievable Carbon Efficiency, electrolysis decarbonization fetishists buy 16-33kWh unnecessary power generation capacity (plus electrolysis). The arm‘s length cost of NG-Carbon (U$0.3/kg) or crude oil Carbon (1% U$/bbl) are a fraction thereof. Of course the most effective Carbon Efficiency improvement would be a change from currently linear to circular Carbon Economy. Key to that is always the dissociation of Methane from recovered chemical energy into physically Captured Carbon releasing “Blue Hydrogen“. While the transition to Carbon Circularity may take a while, Carbon Efficiency from Methane Use could right away be improved by such Methane splitting into „Blue Hydrogen“ and catalytically captured crystalline high specific surface Carbon by-product that can go into another secondary use sector where it substitutes other fossil resource supplies of today.
Even if the world went Carbon Circular one day, any investment in Methane dissociation for “Blue Hydrogen“ plus distinct Carbon re-Use would remain due going concern. But even until then, considering PV and Wind back-up from “Brown Hydrogen“ off such Carbon for let‘s say 30% back-up, the combined Carbon Efficiency compared to an at least 30% idling coal power plant could be up to 10 times of today. Not speaking about any other nasty flue-gas issues of a coal power plant this could supersede. Yes, no doubt, Hydrogen is the greatest hope we can build a cleaner world upon! But for reasons of Brotherlihood and Equality we should keep its provision as frugal as possible. And that means to achieve passable Carbon Efficiency improvements as quickly as possible using what‘s plentiful available now! This might neither be in the interest of some big businesses nor big political foreign powers. But it would be to the benefit of People – financially as well as environmentally. Because directly addressing Carbon multiple re-Use delivers quite naturally unbeatable effective 2°C Carbon budget relief.