“Hydrogen will be an absolutely normal renewable energy source when water but not exhaustible organic fuel will be used as a raw material for its production, as the Earth has almost 5 trillion cubic metres of water reserves. Moreover, when hydrogen is burned, we receive water vapour, which condenses and again accumulates in the water bodies. At the same time, obtaining energy from hydrogen will never be more efficient than obtaining it from hydrocarbons if only because the energy of the Sun has accumulated in organic fuels throughout the existence of organic life,” the scientist noted.
According to him, hydrogen production from fossil resources is expensive and much less efficient than direct production of energy from hydrocarbons.
So the cost of green hydrogen production (RES + water electrolysis) reaches $5.4 per 1 kg, yellow hydrogen (NPP + water electrolysis) – $4.4 per 1 kg, blue hydrogen (methane + steam methane reforming + CO2 capture) – $1.5 per 1 kg, brown hydrogen (coal + coal gasification) – $1.5 per 1 kg, grey hydrogen (methane + steam methane reforming) – $0.9 per 1 kg.
“Now the question is whether we need to get hydrogen from methane because to get 1 kg of hydrogen, we must use 4 kg of methane. If we burn 4 kg of methane, we get 200 mega joules of energy, and 120 mega joules of energy from burning 1 kg of hydrogen,” W. Bessel said.
“Taking into account that Russia’s gas export volume was 194 billion cubic metres in 2021 and assuming that gas conversion into hydrogen will be 100%, which is never the case, we can get only 34.8 billion cubic metres of hydrogen from this gas,” he added.
The hydrogen energy efficiency at the current stage still remains doubtful even using such cheap energy sources as hydropower and nuclear energy.
“If utilisation of all our hydropower plants is supposed to be 100%, which is dangerous, we will have electricity excess of 236.5 billion kWh. With this energy, we can get only 4.3 to 6.5 million tons of hydrogen. If all 9 NPPs in Russia are used at full load, we will get 0.8-1.2 million tons of hydrogen. In total, what we get is 35 million tons of hydrogen from methane, and about 7 million tons of yellow and green hydrogen, i.e. 42 million tons – and Russia has no more resources for its production,” V. Bessel said.
Even direct use of hydrogen as a fuel is questionable. “Hydrogen has the highest specific heat per unit mass, but if we talk about the specific heat per unit volume, we can see that hydrogen has the lowest one, even liquid hydrogen to liquefy, which you would spend a huge amount of energy has a lower calorific value than the compressed methane,” the expert added.
“It’s difficult to imagine the degree of someone’s love of hydrogen if they are ready to fill a tank with hydrogen to drive just 840 km, whereas you can drive 2080 km on liquefied methane, and 34,000 km on liquid hydrocarbon fuel, relatively speaking,” V. Bessel exclaimed in indignation.
Mixing hydrogen with methane in pipelines will lead to a sharp drop in pressure and new energy costs. “Any addition of hydrogen and creation of a methane-hydrogen mixture, reduces our CO2 emissions, but at the same time, the density of the mixture itself immediately begins to fall, which means that the calorific value also falls. When liquefied, hydrogen’s density is 16 kg per cubic metre, while methane’s is 142-145 kg per cubic metre. Any addition of hydrogen leads to decrease in the energy mix,” the expert stressed.
“So, hydrocarbon fuel, primarily natural gas, will continue to be used as the cleanest and the most energy efficient source,” summed up V. Bessel.