Lots of books and briefings have extolled the virtues of using hydrogen as a fuel, but although it certainly has promise in a renewable energy economy, it should not be seen as a cure-all. It is just an energy carrier, and not a feul source in itself. As such we should consider whether it can be deployed to better or worse effect compared to other energy carriers of renewable energy, its main competitor being electricity. These issues are discussed in the documents on this page. But first there is discussion of how hydrogen should not be allowed to be used simply as a means of carrying on using fossil fuels in another form via so-called ‘blue hydrogen’.
One of the most important – arguably the most important – function of hydrogen in a 100percentrenewableuk economy could be to be combined with nitrogen from the atmosphere (at the point of hydrolysis using renewable electricity) to form ammonia. There is considerable experience with storing ammonia and ammonia storage is much easier compared with long term storage of hydrogen. Ammonia can be stored for long periods so that the ammonia can be burned in gas engines, turbines or adapted fuel cells, to produce electricity when needed. The renewable electricity required for hydrolysis to produce the ammonia can be sourced at very low cost when there is excess renewable energy production (when there is more wind and/or solar power than there is electricity demand).