Since the EU will not finance purely fossil fuel infrastructure any longer, the Melita TransGas Pipeline was rebranded as a ‘hydrogen-ready’ pipeline. However, experts state it is not that straightforward to make gas infrastructure suitable for hydrogen transport. It is a much smaller molecule and needs at least 3 times more energy to be transported through a pipeline, as well as posing greater risks for leakages. We need to ensure that hydrogen is not used as a veil to greenwash the fossil gas pipeline project.
While hydrogen may be presented as a type of ‘green’ energy, currently 99% of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels. The main type of hydrogen available today, ‘grey’ hydrogen, is created via steam-reforming from gas or coal – yes, fossil fuels! ‘Blue’ hydrogen is based on the same process as ‘grey’, but includes carbon capture and storage (CCS) mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions, which have yet to be proven to work.
5 Reasons Why Hydrogen Is Not a Green Fuel
- Hydrogen comes with a high financial cost. Additionally to the price of production there is an additional cost related to transport and infrastructure, especially when hydrogen is planned to be produced far away from where it is planned to be used. Most of Europe`s hydrogen production is planned to take place in Africa.
- Hydrogen continues to contribute to climate change, as fossil fuels are used for hydrogen production, with associated greenhouse gas emissions. In 2022 global hydrogen production was responsible for over 900 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 emissions. That’s significantly more than Germany’s CO2 emissions (635 Mt), the EU’s most polluting economy.
- Hydrogen produced from fossil gas props up an industry that has shown time and again its disregard for communities and the environment, especially in the Global South.
- Even ‘green’ hydrogen is not energy efficient. It is produced via electrolysis using renewable energy which can be used more efficiently directly as electricity. The majority of Malta’s energy needs are electricity, with even the transport sector shifting to electric vehicles. Hydrogen production also requires vast amounts of land and water. To produce just 1 kg of hydrogen, at least 9 litres of water is required.
- Relying on hydrogen provides a distraction from the real, deep, urgent emissions reductions needed to address the climate crisis. The fossil fuel industry sees hydrogen as a lifeline for continuing business as usual.
Read Friends of the Earth International position on Hydrogen here: www.foei.org/publication/hydrogen-energy-position/