Blue or green, it’s time to be colour blind

10th Dec 2018

 

Like a large proportion of the male population I have a degree of colour blindness – not the bold primary colours but the more subtle shades of the spectrum. It’s time for our sector to develop a colour blindness before our detractors unfairly label us.

If you haven’t guessed it, I’m talking about hydrogen production. This week I got on my bike, and generated hydrogen gas renewably. Pedal power, converted into electricity, then through electrolysis into hydrogen gas – which was then lit and flared off (more of a flicker than a flare as I’m no Bradley Wiggins).

In our discussions, industry figures kept referring to “green” hydrogen, sourced renewably (or more accurately from low/zero carbon sources) and “blue” hydrogen, sourced via chemical processes using fossil fuel feedstock – such as natural gas converted using SMR with carbon capture.

But there’s a risk in this labelling, as convenient and simple as it is. There is a growing movement that opposes fossil fuel use. It’s now being felt when considering financial investments. It won’t be long before that opposition switches to fossil fuel use. If future low carbon gas network use is seen as being reliant on “blue” hydrogen, there is a risk to that long-term future role of gas in heat and transport decarbonisation. Even the most ardent opponent of gas cannot find fault with “green” hydrogen. So let’s keep talking hydrogen, amongst other low carbon gases, but not give our opponents a free hit.

So developing a degree of colour blindness, between blue and green, might be as convenient for us as it is common amongst adult males.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO