The Industrial Problem

Climate Change’s Elephant in the Room

Heat is 50% of Final Energy Demand

  • 60% of heat is consumed in industry and 40% in buildings
  • Renewables currently account for less than 10% of heat supply
  • Clean electrons aren't enough: most heat used in industry is ≫100 °C, can't be affordably electrified yet
  • We also need a clean fuel to decarbonize heat

Heat in Global Total Final Consumption

Heat includes electricity used to produce heat which accounts for just over 6% heat consumpution.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen (H2) is the holy-grail clean fuel that produces energy and water as its only waste product. It is a carbon-free substitute for fossil fuels. As a fuel, hydrogen can decarbonize many parts of our economy that renewable electrification cannot yet reach.

Challenge with Hydrogen

However, hydrogen has an Achilles’ heel: hydrogen is a uniquely difficult commodity to transport and distribute.
As a gas, under reasonable pressures, hydrogen has only 10% of the energy of gasoline at the same volume.
As a liquid, hydrogen can be moved around with a smaller tank, but hydrogen only becomes a liquid at a whopping -253˚C.
Hydrogen requires specialized new pipelines, as hydrogen embrittles many components of normal gas pipelines.
The International Energy Agency estimates that if the hydrogen has to travel a long way before it can be used, the costs of transmission and distribution could be 3X as large as the cost of hydrogen production .

Cut the Gordian Knot?

In contrast, natural gas infrastructure is already widespread. The US alone has about three million miles of natural gas pipelines running underneath nearly every major city in the contiguous 48 states. After adding all the compressors, tanks, and storage caverns, the infrastructure is worth several trillion dollars. Multiply all that sunk investment by about five for the entire world.

Can we use natural gas infrastructure to provide clean, affordable hydrogen?   »