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Hydrogen /gas bias - Researchers demonstrate that electrification is being undermined by vested interests.

The power of incumbent actors to affect sustainability transitions is increasingly recognised as a central issue associated with systemic change. However, incumbent’s approaches and the outcome of their influence is rarely examined in academic literature. Using a novel approach which combines the lens of ‘discourse coalitions’ with an explicitly critical discursive stance, in which the coalition’s storyline is scrutinised, this interdisciplinary analysis investigates a pro-gas, incumbent led coalition present in the Great Britain (GB) energy system. In response to the threat of electrification, the coalition presents decarbonising the gas grid with replacement gases as the optimal route for heat decarbonisation. However, much analysis suggests a significant need for heat electrification and our review highlights major uncertainties with a decarbonised gas pathway. Incumbents are over-selling 'green-gas' to policy makers in order to protect their interests and detract from the importance and value of electrification. Policy and research recommendations are made.



Tom Baxter's picture

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Sebastian Kennedy's picture
Sebastian Kennedy on Sep 15, 2020 2:19 pm GMT

This study rings true. The gas industry, particularly in the midstream segment, is pushing the hydrogen agenda hard.

But surely there are bigger factors undermining full electrification e.g. comparative economics, householder preferences, the sheer volume of energy required to meet seasonal heating demand variances, and challenges storing/managing the required amount of electricity to cover these variances?

Tom Baxter's picture
Tom Baxter on Sep 16, 2020 6:59 am GMT

Sebastian, thanks for the comment. You are absolutely right with your other factors, in terms of seasonal variances the recent Imperial College report is worth a read.

Gary Hilberg's picture
Gary Hilberg on Sep 18, 2020 4:54 pm GMT

Tom - I am not familiar with the energy mix in the UK, but based on US data, there is more than enough need for both a mix of electrification of heat and alternatives on the gas supply.  The current data on Hydrogen costs even when there is some value to its ability to contribute to storage, is staggering, $/unit of energy delivered is so high.  High efficiency electric heat pumps are a much better choice, particularly in areas that are already using central cooling systems.  Heat pump technology has improved so dramatically that performance and costs TODAY can close the gap economically to an all electric HVAC solution - year around.  

I would make sure that your study highlights the effectiveness and efficiency of the electric heat pump - I would suspect that these manufacturers would provide extensive support to your efforts.

Good luck. 

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