Zero-Carbon By 2050, Boris? Time To Look At Hydrogen

Written by Patrick Benham-Crosswell

hydrogen car

In the drive for electric transport, Boris Johnson’s government intends bringing forward a ban on selling petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035.

It will simultaneously scrap the £3,500 grant towards the purchase of low-emission vehicles.

The move comes after experts said 2040 would be too late if Britain wants to achieve its target of emitting virtually zero carbon by 2050. I suppose that this demonstrates that the UK can be more woke than the EU.

As it happens, I have been looking at the UK’s zero-carbon challenge – in part to find something else to discuss now that Brexit is done.

According to the Government’s data, in 2018 the UK used 380 Terawatt hours (TWh) of energy fuelling cars and vans. Six TWh are the equivalent of about one supertanker full of oil.

At the same time, we produced just 175 TWh of non-COelectricity, of which about 30 percent came from nuclear. So if we wish to electrify road transport, we need to produce twice as much electricity from clean sources.

In fact, it’s worse than that, as the total UK energy consumption is 1,660 TWh.  So we need ten times as much clean electricity.

That comes out at 250,000 wind turbines (we currently have 10,000), 4.5 million acres of solar panels (which is about ten percent of all the land in agricultural production) or 50 Hinkley Point C nuclear power plants.

All of which can be done, at a cost of £1 trillion to £2 trillion.

The final problem is getting the electricity to where it is needed when it is needed. Battery storage is neither cheap nor widely available. All the battery storage currently deployed in the UK could run the country for about five seconds.

The options are to massively upgrade the grid – and work is starting on that – or to use the electricity to generate hydrogen.

This can then be distributed down the gas grid, which is already capable of taking it and act as a direct replacement for natural gas. Domestic heating is responsible for about 30 percent of our emissions.

Better yet, hydrogen can be used to power a car, either through a fuel cell, which is in effect a hydrogen-powered battery or by direct combustion, i.e., in place of petrol or diesel.

This also gets over the fundamental problem of batteries, which is that in the short term they cause more emissions.

The energy required to make batteries is huge, so the lifetime CO2 saving of a battery car is just 20 percent over a petrol one. 

Zero carbon is achievable, but it will take engineering and finance. And we are lucky in the UK to have some top-notch engineers and the world’s financial center.

If BoJo wants to do something environmentally sensible, it would be to scrap the HS2 railway project and apply the £100 billion saving to developing nuclear-powered electrolysis plants.

There’s a company in Crewe that could do it. It’s called Rolls-Royce and it makes nuclear reactors.

The time for political grandstanding has passed. David Attenborough can enjoy his retirement, Greta can go back to school and the Government can start working out how to pay.

Read more at Conservative Woman


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Comments (20)

  • Avatar

    T. C. Clark

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    Boris, why? Is the EU forcing you? Do you believe the IPCC? First things first….it must be settled in regard to whether CO2 is really a villain or a friend. Your actions will certainly raise the cost of living….does that help anyone?

    • Avatar

      Andreas Elenos

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      CO2 is mainly a friend to those whose jobs and taxes depend on government policies regarding emissions. And those who wouldn’t pass a second-year physical chemistry / physics course at a proper university.

      I see the argument against the IPCC and most climate scientists has to do with some nefarious intent on their behalf. I’ll counter with this, and your comment makes it quite evident: perhaps scientists stand to gain from sounding the climate alarm. Perhaps. Far more people, essentially the whole population, stands to gain by conveniently ignoring science rather than engaging with it. They follow their wallets, not their minds.

      That includes the majority of people on this site. Few, if any, actually hold scientific degrees, yet still comment as though they are authorities. It seems they refer to science as a way of concealing their all-too-obvious financial/economic motives…

      • Avatar

        Matt

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        Your comment reveals you have never been a volunteer fireman or given freely your time in contribution to the community from which you benefit parasitically.

      • Avatar

        geran

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        Andreas, CO2 is unable to warm the planet. AGW is a hoax. The bogus Arrhenius CO2 equation, that started it all, falsely creates energy from thin air. That is an impossibility.

        It is you that does not understand the physics. You attack PSI because the truth is counter to your false religion. Like most of your type, you oppose learning.

        But pompous blowhards like yourself are hilarious. More please.

        • Avatar

          Andreas Elenos

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          Good one, Geran. You made three (3) blanket statements about physics, then said you understand physics and I don’t. I’m not an expert – I’ve only taken up to second year university physics.

          However, if you want to make such a claim about Arrhenius’s paper, it’s only fair to present your work. That is, identifying exactly where and why the “impossibility” occurs, instead of just stating it, and then cross-referencing with the discussion and other papers which cite the article to ensure you’re not strawmanning the scientific argument.

          • Avatar

            geran

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            Andreas, if you’ve really studied physics then you should have learned about the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. You should have learned to recognize when that Law is violated. The First Law, in simple words, states that energy can not be created from nothing.

            The bogus Arrhenius CO2 equation has NO mathematical derivation. The equation was conjured up by Arrhenius. The bogus Arrhenius equation violates First Law, creating “Watts/m^2” from nothing.

            That’s just one of the reasons AGW/GHE is a hoax.

          • Avatar

            Andreas Elenos

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            You don’t have to remind me of thermodynamics. If you’re going to propose a fundamental physical violation, a citation would be nice. Neither you nor I are physicists, after all, so at least we know where to look. Although, not being a physicist is a good thing; your claims wouldn’t be entertained by actual physicists, except perhaps Tim Ball.

            I’m not here to comment on the physics of it all – I have no qualifications there. Though, I do have scientific qualifications in another field, so it’s rather easy to remark the utter lack of scientific rigour present here.

          • Avatar

            geran

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            Wrong Andreas, I DID have to remind you about thermodynamics. You didn’t have a clue that the AGW nonsense violated the law, and you couldn’t understand, even after I explained the violation to you.

            So, I agree that you are not here to “comment on the physics of it all”. You are here trying to proselytize your false religion. If fact, you avoided my explanation about the bogus Arrhenius equation. You clearly have no interest in science, or reality.

      • Avatar

        T. C. Clark

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        Uh, what are you trying to say, Andreas? That the science is settled? That we have to stop talking and get out there and stomp out CO2…no Carbon…wherever we find the vile evil stuff? I like Carbon…diamonds…those cute little buckey balls…60 atom carbon molecules…..carbon fibre…..graphene….and I like the O2 that our friends the plants provide via CO2. I make no money from this argument but the CO2 opponents …at least many of them…do make money…Al Gore is the poste boy.

        • Avatar

          Andreas Elenos

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          You make no money? Last I checked, most funding for climate change initiatives comes from taxpayers.

          I’m not saying the science is settled. No science is settled, but we as a global society have an onus to act on our best present knowledge. Now, as for you, get a PhD, or leave the settling to the scientists.

          • Avatar

            geran

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            Andreas, your perceived “present knowledge” is your belief in pseudoscience.

            You have an onus to face reality.

    • Avatar

      Andy Rowlands

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      I like your chosen name, it reminds me of General Jack D Ripper from Dr Strangelove, but I’m guessing that was probably your intention 🙂

  • Avatar

    Charles Higley

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    The author jumps quickly from the enormous amount of wind and solar needed to generate enough electricity without carbon emissions to hydrogen. There remains the huge environmental, expense, maintenance, foot print and unreliability of wind and solar. Hydrogen would basically replace needing batteries and the need for natural gas, gasoline, and diesel.

    That’s a lot of hydrogen folks. There is an energy lost involved in generating hydrogen, not ignoring the actual cost of the electrolytic process and gas transport.. Handling that much hydrogen and storing enough for sunless and windless days, also is not addressing heating all those houses now with hydrogen.

    Hydrogen under pressure is not good for iron pipes, as it can enter into the metal and convert the iron to iron hydride, which is brittle; boom. I do not know about other metals, but handling that much hydrogen under pressure in a gas grid and millions of cars, with all the related filling stations, has the potential for lots of disasters and failures. Hydrogen is not the answer, just another kludge.

  • Avatar

    chris

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    Hydrogen has a major problem, in order to store it in liquid form we need high pressure containers. It will have to be in liquid form in order to store enough of it in a car in order to go a decent distance before refueling.

    In order to go zero carbon all organic life in the country will have to be eliminated. This will last until either the next plant sprouts or until people walk onto the land and claim it as their own.

  • Avatar

    Joseph Olson

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    Author has no grasp of chemical reality. Hydrogen is the smallest, lightest, lowest energy density molecule available. Hydrogen is highly reactive, EXPLOSIVE (ask Hindenburg) and requires more energy to create than is can produce by combustion or by fuel cell.

    “Five Reasons Hydrogen Cars Are Stupid” > Engineering Explained on YouTube

  • Avatar

    Boris Badenov

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    I have a question, say we stop using natural gas, can’t stop using oil, it’s a wonderful lubricant, so the earth is cooking up quite of bit of both….so where does it go? Oh I know, through cracks into the atmosphere. So, what the H is the point of not using something the Earth is cranking out like crazy? All to stop producing plant food? Oh one more little thought, what about air planes? Or what about container ships? Or is world commerce going to come to a grinding halt? Just think how great the world could be if they’d stop this carbon nonsense.

  • Avatar

    T. C. Clark

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    Norway has a few H2 stations and one recently had a big explosion. Some commercial drone makers use H2 because fuel cells offer 3 or 4 times the flying time compared to batteries and one drone maker has developed a better H2 tank. Toyota makes gasoline cars and battery cars and hybrids…and a few fuel cell cars…as well as one of the S. Korean car makers. The jury is apparently still out on H2 and fuel cells except for the niche drone market. Thorium molten salts reactors could provide cheap abundant electricity which could provide H2 at stations via electrolysis. Better batteries and maybe super capacitors could better compete with fuel cells.

  • Avatar

    Brian James

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    Apr 3, 2019 World’s First Hydrogen Boat – Energy Observer

    This is the energy observer, the first autonomous hydrogen boat to sail the seas.

    https://youtu.be/pgdXbe1in64

    • Avatar

      Carbon Bigfoot

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      The catamaran ( not a boat ) requires three power sources so it is not a hydrogen-powered vessel and probably can’t do more than 10 knots/hr. The vessel is a sieve and probably can’t survive storms at sea.
      The power density of the three systems will NEVER power a vessel of any significant size. Another wet dream that does not comply with the reality of thermodynamics.

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