20th July 2024

Among the many bulletins anticipated on the COP28 local weather talks in Dubai is a brand new trade commonplace for assessing the local weather impacts of hydrogen, to be unveiled by the Worldwide Requirements Group. These requirements may in a short time turn into the start line for a cascade of different guidelines and rules at nationwide and state ranges which set the trail for the way hydrogen is produced. If achieved effectively, we may have a playbook for the way hydrogen deployment will assist us obtain local weather neutrality by 2050. However achieved poorly, we danger losing cash and more and more valuable time to cut back greenhouse gasoline emissions.

Which means new ISO requirements have to be firmly grounded within the present local weather science and cutting-edge emissions monitoring. At minimal, this contains three foundational elements:

COP28 Hydrogen Requirements: Why They Matter and What to Look For Click on To Tweet

1. All related climate-warming emissions

Accounting for carbon dioxide emissions is a crucial component, however inadequate by itself. We can’t overlook or underestimate the warming impact of different, stronger gases emitted throughout the hydrogen worth chain. These embrace upstream methane emission when hydrogen is produced from pure gasoline, generally known as blue hydrogen. With greater than 80 instances the warming energy of carbon dioxide within the first 20 years after its launch, the power to restrict methane emissions may have an outsized affect over whether or not hydrogen is helpful for the local weather.

We should additionally embrace the warming results of hydrogen itself. A small, leak-prone molecule, hydrogen can simply escape into the environment unintentionally, and it’s typically deliberately vented or purged. Hydrogen has greater than 30 instances the warming energy of CO2 within the first 20 years, which implies that monitoring and stopping emissions are a necessary step for maximizing local weather advantages. local weather advantages.

And since each methane and hydrogen are short-lived local weather pollution, requirements should account for each longer-term warming (typically calculated on a 100-year timeframe, known as International Warming Potential, or GWP100) and shorter-term warming (typically a 20-year timeframe, or GWP20).  If we solely use GWP100 — a typical observe for combining emissions of a number of local weather pollution — we are going to fail to account for the near-term efficiency, and its penalties.

2. Actual information, fairly than outdated assumptions

Standard emission estimates are usually outdated, primarily based on guesswork, and skew artificially low. If new requirements depend on previous strategies, our efforts to cut back local weather air pollution may simply go off monitor.

Living proof: The official estimate for common methane losses from U.S. oil and gasoline operations is 1% of complete manufacturing. However there’s a mountain of latest information displaying that the precise determine is at the least double that. And if gasoline used to make hydrogen is sourced from high-emission areas just like the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, the leak charge might be greater than 3 times increased.

Luckily, good methane monitoring know-how is available, so there is no such thing as a excuse for not utilizing precise methane information. Industrial sensors for hydrogen are usually not but on the pace and sensitivity wanted, however work is underway to get them prepared earlier than main new hydrogen tasks come on-line, an effort inspired by the Worldwide Power Company. Operators ought to start planning for them now.

Finest observe must also lengthen to how carbon dioxide is tracked and accounted for by fossil-fuel primarily based hydrogen amenities. Monitoring, reporting, and impartial verification are important for making certain carbon dioxide is really captured and completely saved underground such that leakage will likely be not more than 1% over 1,000 years, a goal the IPCC says is achievable.

Up to date accounting practices are additionally wanted to make sure hydrogen producers can’t greenwash their air pollution by buying carbon-negative offsets.

3. Safeguards towards undermining different decarbonization efforts

Producing hydrogen is extremely power intensive. A lot in order that it may simply eat clear electrical energy that might in any other case be used to energy properties, companies, and automobiles straight, extra effectively and at decrease price. This unhealthy competitors may lead to pulling extra fossil fuels into our energy grid to fill the brand new demand, lowering — and even reversing — the general meant local weather profit.

An excellent commonplace would supply a rigorous accounting framework to make sure that hydrogen manufacturing is bringing in further inexperienced energy, and due to this fact not driving a rise in fossil fuels. This can be a precept that the EU has already adopted.

Having a stable methodology for calculating a venture’s influence on the local weather is key and ISO requirements ought to handle this. But much more vital is the necessity for governments to set a excessive bar for precisely how climate-friendly hydrogen tasks have to be. To fulfill bold nationwide and worldwide local weather targets, we’d like hydrogen to lead to a big enchancment over right this moment’s fossil fuels, that’s, produced with near-zero emissions. What we don’t need is multibillion greenback investments in hydrogen tasks which can be compliant with a brand new worldwide commonplace, however find yourself failing to meaningfully sort out local weather change.

And because the makes use of for hydrogen sooner or later increase effectively past right this moment’s, we are going to want new, application-specific requirements. For instance, if hydrogen goes to be burned at an influence plant, industrial facility and even in a residential heater — we are going to want new air air pollution requirements. If we’re going to retailer hydrogen underground, or transport it lengthy distances by ship, we are going to want new requirements to reduce leakage dangers. Each of which don’t exist right this moment.

In the end, any requirements launched at COP28 have to be the start, not the top, of a worldwide effort.  EDF and others within the environmental and educational communities stand prepared to assist ISO create the sturdy requirements that will likely be important for making certain hydrogen’s success.

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