- Dec 12, 2022 2:06 am GMT
Geological hydrogen could revolutionise our low-carbon future.
The current debate focuses on Green vs Blue Hydrogen production. However, naturally occurring or geological hydrogen – has largely been overlooked because it was assumed rare or too difficult to extract.
- Natural hydrogen has the potential to cause the biggest disruption to the global energy system in the coming decades
- If natural hydrogen can be exploited economically, it would remove the need for clean water, which is used during green hydrogen electrolysis, and eliminate the need for expensive Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) associated with blue hydrogen.
- Yet, much is unknown about natural hydrogen, and discovery of this potentially renewable resource raises several questions, such as:
- Are there any known commercial accumulations?
- How can it be exploited?
- What are the legal implications of exploring for hydrogen?
- What are the costs of production?
- Can it decarbonise and compete with existing (grey and blue) hydrogen feedstock, or even green hydrogen?
- Historically, natural hydrogen has been ignored due to the persistent misconception that it rarely occurs naturally – a view that largely prevailed despite the fact that since the beginning of the 20th century geoscientists have documented natural hydrogen, both in sedimentary and non-sedimentary
- Mali case study, where natural hydrogen was first discovered in 1987 during the drilling of ~100-metre-deep water wells. It was 98% pure.
- Legalities: On a global stage, the natural hydrogen explorers are getting organised and have been applying for exploration permits in various places around the world.
- The New Frontier: Natural hydrogen may represent a new frontier in the energy transition, but engineers and geoscientists, globally, must first work to understand where and how this potentially valuable gas is produced, and how to get it to market cheaply and safely.
Lots of R&D needs to be done to answer questions like:
- What is the average size of a natural hydrogen resource?
- What is the carbon footprint of exploring and producing it?
- Can natural hydrogen supplies decarbonise the existing grey hydrogen feedstock?
- What is the cost of exploration, development and production?
By answering such questions, we will gain a better understanding of the contribution natural carbon can make to our low-carbon future.
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