Utility Scale, Wind Power

REPORT: Renewables Key to Hydrogen Economy

The European Wind Energy Association has warned that a premature push toward the so-called hydrogen economy could have a serious environmental downside.

Brussels, Belgium – May 1, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The group submitted its policy position to the “High Level Group on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells,” which is developing a vision document to define a “sustainable energy and transport system for Europe.” EWEA argues that the environmental case for developing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies is flawed without large-scale Renewable Energy production. “The perception that hydrogen and fuel cells are inherently clean is not true. Hydrogen is only as clean as the technologies producing the hydrogen. Today 98 percent of hydrogen is generated from fossil fuel sources. Without constructing large amounts of additional Renewable Energy production that share is unlikely to change,” said Christian Kjaer, EWEA policy director. In its response, EWEA writes that the vision more or less assumes hydrogen is inherently clean without examining the total hydrogen cycle. EWEA recommends that the vision report takes on a full “well-to wheel” approach by including the hydrogen production technologies and their environmental and carbon effects in its vision. “It is a backwards argument that hydrogen opens access to new and Renewable Energy sources. It is the other way around,” said Kjaer. “Large-scale Renewable Energy production, such as offshore wind power, is an essential precondition for the credible deployment of a sustainable hydrogen economy. Without renewables, hydrogen is dirty and it will simply be another energy carrier that is set to increase traditional polluting energy sources.” EWEA points out that Renewable Energy technologies with vastly unused potentials, for example offshore wind power, are available today. However existing barriers such as unfavorable grid codes, limited grid access and other regulatory requirements put them at a competitive disadvantage with conventional power sources, distorting competition.