BP pushes ‘blue’ hydrogen at the expense of renewable hydrogen using inflated projections for hydrogen market


BP is trying to boost production of ‘blue’ hydrogen from natural gas and limit output of ‘green’ hydrogen from renewable energy. It is trying to do this using grossly inflated projections of future hydrogen use and thus claim there will not be enough renewable energy to sustain a global net zero economy. However green groups are fighting back against such efforts.

BP’s Chief Economist Spencer Dale claims, in Petroleum Economist that ‘the production of blue hydrogen helps overall global supplies of hydrogen to grow relatively quickly without relying too heavily on renewable energy’.

In reality BP’s push to convert its natural gas production into ‘blue’ hydrogen is likely to squeeze ‘green’ hydrogen out of a market that will be much smaller than what BP claims.

In its just published ‘global energy outlook’ BP makes the dubious  projection that (global) growth in hydrogen provision in buildings energy use will be faster than electricity use, as these sources replace fossil use. This is worrying and also unlikely since, as argued in other blog posts on this website, hydrogen is a very inefficient way of providing heating compared to electrically powered heat pumps. Three to four times less renewable energy is needed to provide a given amount of heating using heat pumps than using hydrogen.

BP also likely exaggerates hydrogen’s potential to supply transport needs. Hydrogen powered vehicles are currently almost non-existent compared to the take-up of electric vehicles whose cost is falling rapidly as their range increases and charge times decrease. Hydrogen may fuel some large vehicles such as buses and lorries, but even here there is growing competition from electrically powered models as the energy density of batteries increases.

The contrast between the bloated claims of the pro ‘blue’ hydrogen lobby (read Big Oil and Gas) and the essential uses of hydrogen (ie where hydrogen is best place to provide efficient use of renewable energy) is exposed by analysis conducted by the Committee on Climate Change. In their 2018 hydrogen paper (see Figure 4.1 page 97) the ‘niche’ (ie essential) use of hydrogen is barely one seventh of the bloated, ‘full hydrogen’ scenario which is dominated by use of hydrogen to heat buildings. Meeting ‘niche’ uses for hydrogen, including steel, fertiliser production, concrete production and as a means of storing renewable energy (maybe through ammonia), is a good sized market, but one that can easily be supplied by ‘green’ hydrogen from renewable energy.

But as Big Oil and Gas pull their political weight at both national and local level they can get regulatory, planning and financial support to boost production of ‘blue’ hydrogen. Given that the hydrogen market will inevitably be a lot smaller than what BP projects, green hydrogen is likely to be sidelined.

Green groups are pushing back against this attempt at a blue hydrogen coup, seeing as an attempt to keep the conventional gas industry afloat. Mark Ruskell MSP, the Scottish Greens Energy Spokesperson commented on twitter  that he was ‘Concerned that a dash for hydrogen masks what the North Sea Gas sector really wants, maximum extraction and conventional use of methane. Where is the Scottish Government’s hydrogen strategy?’ He argued that it is ‘likely that hydrogen used in the gas grid will be blended with natural gas extending its use for heating way into the future. What you should be pushing for is a massive heat pump sector deal’.

Meanwhile Richard Dixon, Director of Scottish Friends of the Earth attacked the deal under which BP will be ‘advising’ Aberdeen Council ( an arrangement which will involve ‘blue’ hydrogen) saying this was ‘a bit like asking a car dealer to help you redesign your public transport system’.

Big oil and gas’s attempts to preserve their methane industry need to be resisted and attention placed firmly on the need to expand renewable energy production from onshore and offshore wind, different forms of solar pv, and marine renewables. Of course hydrogen is a priority, but it must be green, not blue. A good way to fend off the pernicious efforts by oil and gas to grab the hydrogen market is to campaign for 100 per cent renewable energy solutions, which is what 100percentrenewableuk is doing.




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Government confirms renewables will be massively cheaper than Hinkley C nuclear power even including system integration costs

A Government report issued last month confirms that renewables would be at least one third cheaper than a Hinkley C type nuclear project, and that is even despite the fact that the report ignores the cheapest available storage technologies.

The report, issued by BEIS tries to take into account the extra system costs of absorbing renewable energy. In doing so the report completely ignores what many people think are going to be the cheapest way of integrating renewables, but, such is the cheapness of renewable energy sources such as offshore wind, solar pv and onshore wind, even then renewables comes out much cheaper than Hinkley C.

Continue reading “Government confirms renewables will be massively cheaper than Hinkley C nuclear power even including system integration costs”

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Are popular electric car sales being deliberately held back to undermine EU emissions reduction policy?

by David Toke

Car manufacturers are stopping production of some of their cheapest and most popular electric vehicles (EVs) just in advance of EU assessments about how far the car manufacturers should reduce the emissions that their fleets produce. Is this a coincidence, or are car manufacturers once again cheating the public?

Continue reading “Are popular electric car sales being deliberately held back to undermine EU emissions reduction policy?”

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EDF tries to hide its massive state subsidies behind a hydrogen smokescreen


by David Toke

EDF are trying to bamboozle ministers to back a scheme that would pay EDF massive subsidies and premium prices to produce hydrogen that renewable energy would generate for less than half the cost. EDF are scrabbling for PR tricks to obscure the fact that they are asking for a blank cheque from British electricity consumers to fund the proposed Sizewell C plant, on top of which EDF will also be paid a high guaranteed premium price for all of their electricity production. Sizewell C will get massive subsidies to generate hydrogen from electricity while renewable energy schemes will be paid no subsidies at all to do the same.

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Alarm! Politicians are being hoodwinked by the gas industry to back blue hydrogen for domestic heating

By David Toke

The natural gas industry has scored a success in persuading the Environmental Audit Committee to back its plans for using hydrogen to substitute for natural gas in domestic heating. But this spells disaster! Even if the hydrogen came from renewable energy this would still be a colossal waste of renewable energy resources. But the reality is much worse!

Continue reading “Alarm! Politicians are being hoodwinked by the gas industry to back blue hydrogen for domestic heating”

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Why I don’t believe BP is getting off oil and into renewables

BP’s decision to cut oil production by 40 per cent and shift to renewables big time by 2030 is likely to last about as long as oil prices stay fairly low, which might not be as long as people think. BP’s green programme announcement is obviously a good move to reverse the slide in its share prices. Indeed BP’s previous ‘green’ rebranding as ‘Beyond Petroleum‘ in 1998 produced good trading results and put it in a position to scrap a lot of its investments in renewables a few years later and continue to invest in new oilfields. The same is likely to happen again.

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How bankrupt US nuclear financing schemes are going to be used to fund nuclear power in the UK

As different types of corrupt pro-nuclear handouts in the USA unravel the British Government is expected to support bringing in a legalised version of bankrupt US nuclear financing practices to fund Sizewell C nuclear power plant.

The US nuclear power industry is in danger of implosion as corrupt practices used to maintain its old power plant and pay for new plant are the subject of prosecutions. In Ohio the Speaker of the House of Representatives has been arrested on account of charges that he was bribed to ensure that nuclear power and coal plant in Ohio were given bailouts whilst policies supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency were cut back.

Meanwhile in South Carolina the Securities and Exchange Committee has charged executives of the State’s monopoly utility with fraud after the abandonment of two of the only four nuclear reactors  whose construction has been started in the USA this century. According to the Wall Street Journal: ‘The defendants claimed the project was on track even though they knew it was significantly delayed and wouldn’t be completed on time by Jan. 1, 2021, to qualify for $1.4 billion of federal tax credits, the securities regulator alleged’. In the process the electricity consumers were charges billions of dollars for the power plant which were not built through a similar cost recovery process that is proposed for the UK.

Over to Florida, and while nobody has been charged with any offences there is great controversy over the way the dominant state utility has charged the electricity consumer for a nuclear power plant that was never built. In this case they never even got as far as breaking ground, but the consumers had to pay out  $871 million as well as lots more money for other bungled projects relating to nuclear energy. Florida, like other US  states has simultaneously erected huge barriers stopping homeowners (in the so-called ‘Sunshine State’) from putting solar panels on their roofs.

According to the New York Times: ‘Florida is one of eight states that prohibit the sale of solar electricity directly to consumers unless the provider is a utility. There is also a state rule, enforced by the utilities, requiring expensive insurance policies for big solar arrays on houses’.

Meanwhile in Georgia, the third state to use the cost recovery method for financing nuclear plant, the only two nuclear power plant being built in the USA (Vogtle III and IV) are hopelessly delayed with massive cost overruns, again, yes you’ve guessed it, with costs paid by electricity consumers.

Of course all of these real or abandoned nuclear plant were financed under the so-called Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model that is being slated to pay for Sizewell C in the UK. This is hailed as a much cheaper way to pay for nuclear power compared with the way that Hinkley C is financed. Cheaper, for the developer (in this case EDF), certainly, but for the electricity consumer it’s a disaster! The consumer, as the US experience clearly illustrates, starts paying and continues paying for a nuclear power plant long before it is generating any energy, and there is no guarantee even that it will ever generate anything! But the consumer still pays, no matter what the constructions cost overruns turn out to be! And invariably, with nuclear power plant, there are very large cost overruns.

Added to this of course the bias in favour of new nuclear as opposed to new renewable energy schemes is also assured. The contracts nuclear power are being given assure them that they will get paid the premium price for energy generated even if wholesale electricity prices are negative whereas windfarms and solar farms will get nothing in such circumstances. See our report on this. Of course there’s nothing illegal in this because mountains of impenetrable contractual and accountancy paperwork make it so. It is just written by the the people who have the energy establishment’s interests at heart.

Post written by David Toke

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Breakthrough plant to enable long term storage of renewable energy using ammonia

A massive plant that will produce ammonia from renewable energy is scheduled to be operating in Saudi Arabia in 2025. This will enable renewable energy to be stored long term and thus dispenses with any need for so-called ‘baseload power’ from fossil fuels or nuclear power.

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Government announces funding for fantasy small modular reactor programme

The Government has just announced a £40 million research programme into so-called advanced modular reactor technology that is highly unlikely ever to see any practical use. That is because the so-called small modular reactors (SMRs) are much too expensive for civilian use.

In an important sense it is nonsense to talk about research to develop SMRs as a ‘new’ technology simply because they already exist. They power military submarines and also US aircraft carriers. Their design is simply a smaller version of the Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) design that dominates the world nuclear power industry. Indeed PWRs began as small projects housed in submarines which were then developed up in scale so that they could produce electricity more cheaply.

Continue reading “Government announces funding for fantasy small modular reactor programme”

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Hope in Hell – an interview with Jonathon Porritt about his new book

David Toke writes: Jonathon Porritt is, in my opinion, the most influential British green political thinker. Here I’m interviewing him about his new book ‘Hope in Hell – A decade to confront the climate emergency’, published by Simon and Shuster.

See the interview above through youtube


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