This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.


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

Tom Baxter's picture
Chemical Engineering Consultant PDB

Tom Baxter graduated from Strathclyde University in 1975 with a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering (first class honours). He is a Fellow of the IChemE. He started his career with ICI Petrochemicals...

  • Member since 2020
  • 19 items added with 9,052 views
  • Sep 15, 2020

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.



Seb Kennedy's picture
Seb Kennedy on Sep 15, 2020

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

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

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. 

Tom Baxter's picture
Thank Tom for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »