Journalist & Publicist/ Specialized in Climate Change and Environmental Journalism
Governments and energy companies have bet big on green hydrogen, while consuming a lot of water to produce it.
In Europe, the energy squeeze caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forcing governments to look for alternative energy sources, and rising gas prices have made green hydrogen seem much more affordable. But will the increase in the price of drinking water be equally affordable, after the increase in the price of industrial water?
According to some data from ‘Deuchland.de’ it takes at least 9 litres of water to produce one litre of green hydrogen from water electrolysis.
In 2020, natural gas sales in Germany reached 939 Twh (billion kwh), 31 percent of which was attributed to buildings. To replace this amount of energy with green hydrogen, 214.6 million m³ of water would have to be separated by electrolysis. Assuming continuous operation, this means 24,500 m³ per hour, which is equivalent to the hourly water consumption of households in greater Berlin, if the hydrogen was produced in Germany.
But if green hydrogen is produced in Africa, where will they get the water?
For Germany in this case, the complete replacement of natural gas is not a viable alternative in the short term; experts believe that 10 percent would be possible. On the other hand, the European Union approved 5.2 billion euros in subsidies for green hydrogen projects in September of 2022. The United States had approved billions of dollars in green credits as hydrogen taxes in the Inflation Reduction Act.
Meanwhile, studies on the risk of leaks undermining the climate benefits of green hydrogen have been published by Columbia University, the Environmental Defense Fund, the universities of Cambridge and Reading.
Tomorrow: How was and how is the water issue in Kosovo?