I count this as winning the first set.


Expand full comment

It's worth taking a peek at how Shell got on with the EU subsidised REFHYNE project, which was designed to produce about 1% of the Wesseling refinery's hydrogen needs. Lessons learned (note particularly the difficult economics, even against high methane prices)


Assumptions ahead of the reality:


Also worth a probe is the Dutch PosHYdon project to produce hydrogen by electrolysis from offshore wind. A couple of things stand out: the need to pre-process the sea water by filtration and desalination, and the very limited scope of the hydrogen introduced into the offshore pipelines, for fear of HIC and embrittlement. The project seems to have gone all quiet since the Dutch King paid a visit last summer. Intermittency is another obvious concern, also discussed by Shell.


I took a look at the issue of intermittency a while ago. The problem is that surplus wind occurs occasionally firstly at times of low demand, and then as wind capacity is increased, those surpluses become more frequent and larger, while smaller surpluses start to appear at times of slightly higher levels of demand. When you aggregate across a fleet of wind farms you find that surplus duration curves for different capacity levels look something like this (mouseover chart):


So with current levels of demand and 66GW of wind you would get less than 1GW of hydrogen electrolysers able to run at 25% utilisation, and if you built 10GW, the marginal utilisation would be barely over 10%, for an average utilisation of around 17%, or 1.7GW x 60% efficiency or about 1GW of hydrogen output on average. You might need 110GW of wind to be able to run 10GW of electrolysers at a minimum of 30% utilisation, with a very large amount of surplus generation that has to be curtailed because you cannot make use of higher levels of surplus. Of course, you could run the electrolysers at higher utilisation, but you would effectively be fuelling them with whatever generation you used to meet demand instead - which makes the hydrogen potentially very expensive. The height of stupidity would be to burn hydrogen in a CCGT to make hydrogen...

The reality is that everything has to be paid for, and that will fall to consumers and taxpayers however the subsidy regime is massaged. It makes no economic sense whatever and will just be another nail in the real uncompetitiveness of the UK economy.

Expand full comment
Mar 12, 2023Liked by David Turver

You're a great writer and your analysis is very clear. Thank you for your work.

Expand full comment

Thank you for your support

Expand full comment