As Subsidies Roll in, the Fossil Fuel Industry Is Winning Efforts to Cast Blue Hydrogen as a ‘Clean’ Fuel

From the U.S. to Japan, governments are quickly putting money behind oil and gas industry efforts selling blue hydrogen produced by natural gas with carbon capture as a clean fuel for the energy transition. But new research finds blue hydrogen may be no cleaner than burning natural gas.

Justin Mukulka desmog Blog August 23rd 2021

As global efforts to ramp up the hydrogen industry gain support with big government subsidies, new research casts increasing doubt on the climate credentials of the main recipient of that support, so-called “blue” hydrogen, which is extracted from natural gas and paired with carbon capture technology.

Hydrogen, an energy carrier proposed for helping transition the world away from fossil fuels, is well-suited for the oil and gas industry’s public relations machine. The industry, a major player in the main lobbying group, the Hydrogen Council, can run ads and talk about moving toward green hydrogen, which is produced from water using renewable energy, while working in the interim to get the world hooked on blue hydrogen. Blue hydrogen is made from natural gas, which is mostly methane, using electricity generated by burning more gas, and hydrogen is considered “blue” (rather than “gray”) when its carbon emissions are sequestered. The process uses lots of energy and releases carbon dioxide, plus, the natural gas supply chain is known to leak the powerful greenhouse gas methane. 


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