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Hydrogen: where is low-carbon fuel most useful for decarbonisation?
(The Conversation, 9 Nov 2020) Is hydrogen the lifeblood of a low-carbon future, or an overhyped distraction from real solutions? One thing is certain – the coal, oil and natural gas which currently power much of daily life must be phased out within coming decades.
From the cars we drive to the energy that heats our homes, these fossil fuels are deeply embedded in society and the global economy. But is the best solution in all cases to swap them with hydrogen – a fuel which only produces water vapour, and not CO₂, when burned?
Answering that question are six experts in engineering, physics and chemistry.
Road and rail
Hu Li, Associate Professor of Energy Engineering, University of Leeds
Transport became the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, contributing about 28% of the country’s total.
Replacing the internal combustion engines of passenger cars and light-duty vehicles with batteries could accelerate the process of decarbonising road transport, but electrification isn’t such a good option for heavy-duty vehicles such as lorries and buses. Compared to gasoline and diesel fuels, the energy density (measured in megajoules per kilogram) of a battery is just 1%. For a 40-tonne truck, just over four tonnes of lithium-ion battery cells are needed for a range of 800 kilometres, compared to just 220 kilograms of diesel.
The energy sufficiency library
eceee's energy sufficiency library contains all concept papers, workshop reports and presentations from the Energy Sufficiency project. It also highlights relevant reports from other sources to help you dig deeper and better understand what sufficiency might mean for you and our society.