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Blue hydrogen more harmful than fossil fuel

Industry Desk : By 2050, the government wants to set up more than 22,000 MW of hydrogen-based power generation capacity. But the plan would go against the country’s climate goals, a new study has found. Studies have shown that blue hydrogen is more harmful than fossil fuels in terms of polluting gas emissions.
Last year, Bangladesh unveiled the Integrated Master Plan for Energy and Power (IEPMP-2023). This was done with the help of Japan International Corporation Agency and Japan Institute of Energy Economics. It proposes to establish 137,800 megawatts of electricity generation capacity in Bangladesh by 2050, of which 22,48 megawatts will come from hydrogen fuel.
In terms of production process, there are three types of hydrogen fuel – gray, blue and green. Among them, gray hydrogen is produced by burning fossil fuels like natural gas and coal. Green hydrogen is the most environmentally friendly, produced with electricity from renewable sources such as wind or solar power. It does not emit any kind of greenhouse gas.
On the other hand, fossil fuels are used to produce blue hydrogen. However, carbon capture and storage systems are used to partially absorb and store the emitted greenhouse gases.
It is also often claimed to be an environmentally friendly fuel. But new research suggests that blue hydrogen may be more harmful to the environment than conventional fossil fuels.
It has not been specifically stated whether the target will be green or blue hydrogen power generation. However, experts fear that most of the electricity can be produced from blue hydrogen as it is relatively less expensive than green hydrogen.
In the blue hydrogen production process, hydrogen is separated by breaking down the molecular structure of methane gas. And the emitted carbon-dioxide is stored after absorption from the atmosphere with the help of carbon capture and storage technology. It is claimed that the environment is safe through this. But research by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) says otherwise.
On the other hand, renewable electricity is used to produce green hydrogen by breaking down the molecular structure of water and extracting hydrogen from it. According to the researchers, this technology requires more investment, but its raw materials are easily available.
Compared to that, blue hydrogen production will depend on locally extracted or imported methane gas. But whether green or blue, hydrogen production will require many new technologies. These technologies have to be imported from Japan or other countries of the world. Japan has a blue hydrogen production plant. But the import of these technologies has to be huge.
Experts have warned that even after so much investment, if the environment is not pollution-free as expected, blue hydrogen will eventually become a burden for Bangladesh in all aspects, including the economy.
The research was published last month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. There, EDF Fund researchers said, the impact of blue hydrogen on the climate will be 50 percent more harmful than that of conventional fuels.
EDF is a non-profit environmental organization based in the United States. Their research was published on February 21. The research article highlights the various limitations of blue hydrogen, from its supply chain or production to consumption of blue hydrogen can lead to high levels of hydrogen and methane emissions, which will increase global warming by 50 percent in the short term or near future compared to fossil fuels.
It also says that proponents of blue hydrogen production and use are using carbon capture and storage technology as their shield. They say, through this technology, up to 98 percent of carbon dioxide can be prevented from entering the atmosphere. However, such a technology could not be brought to the market so far to stop the release of carbon dioxide at this regular rate.
Instead of this 98 percent, if the carbon capture and storage technology can capture a little less, that is, 60 percent carbon dioxide, it is claimed that the environmental benefits due to blue hydrogen will be 15-50 percent in the short term and 20-60 percent in the long term. Up to less profit.
EDF’s lead author of the research paper, Tiani Sun, said: ‘Emissions need to be thoroughly quantified in both cases to find out what impact the use of hydrogen as a fuel will have on the climate, and what opportunities can be exploited to reduce those impacts.
“After taking into account all of the short- and long-term impacts of (greenhouse gas) emissions on the climate, our review shows that the impact of using hydrogen as a fuel is far greater than we thought.”
Governments are currently discussing how to define ‘clean’ or pollution-free hydrogen. According to experts, only green hydrogen produced from renewable sources is clean hydrogen.
A global ISO system for measuring hydrogen production emissions was announced at the COP-28 climate conference. However, environmentalists express concern that the release of blue hydrogen will be less.
Several local and international experts have expressed their concerns about the inclusion of Blue Hydrogen in Bangladesh’s integrated energy and power plan.
Climate and renewable energy expert M Zakir Hossain Khan told, “If the emphasis is shifted to unproven sources like blue hydrogen for fuel and electricity, it will become a huge burden for Bangladesh in terms of energy security, affordability and energy crisis.”
The government should withdraw from this plan to use blue hydrogen. Instead, truly pollution-free green hydrogen should be adopted as an alternative,” he added.
Hasan Mehedi, member secretary of Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt told, ‘Hydrogen technology is known as a false solution for reducing emissions, because the technology is not sufficiently proven. Even developed countries like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom refused to accept this technology from Japan during the G7 conference last year.
He also said, ‘Considering the cost of production, a developing country like Bangladesh should not accept such unproven technology.’

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