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Chart of the Week

2020

Colours of the Rainbow: Green hydrogen and FES 2020

Lee Drummee Analyst

On 27 July, National Grid ESO released the 2020 issue of its Future Energy Scenarios (FES), exploring different pathways towards GB’s 2050 net zero goal. A new set of scenarios were developed for this year’s FES, with three of the four (Consumer Transformation, System Transformation and Leading the Way) meeting the net zero target. For this year, scenarios were framed around the scale of decarbonisation set against the scale of societal transformation needed. More so than ever in FES, the development of hydrogen for heating, transport and to a lesser extent clean dispatchable thermal general plays a pivotal role in all three net zero scenarios. In this Chart of the Week we look at the relationship in these scenarios between electricity demand for the production of hydrogen and installed wind capacity. The total energy input needed for hydrogen production ranges from 190TWh in Consumer Transformation to 736TWh in System Transformation. The difference represents the potential scale of hydrogen use for heating and heavy duty transport. There are several ways in which hydrogen can be produced such as reforming methane, biomass gasification and electrolysis using renewable electricity (all considered potentially “green” forms of hydrogen against the traditional “blue” hydrogen from natural gas). Using methane or biomass to produce hydrogen also requires carbon capture and storage to meet net zero targets, whilst electrolysis using renewable generation can produce hydrogen with no carbon emissions. What FES 2020 data shows is an interesting correlation between the use of hydrogen in ...

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