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The Drivers of Hydrogen’s Waves of Hype: Between Security and the Environment – new article by John Szabo

The Drivers of Hydrogen’s Waves of Hype:

Between Security and the Environment

 

 

Proponents continue to frame hydrogen as the “Swiss army knife” of the energy transition due to its versatility. Like most energy carriers, its presumed vitality to the basic functioning of economies in capitalist society makes it a resource that will mediate international political relations. Ambitions to introduce it in the past certainly did so, as the waves of enthusiasm surrounding it in the 1960s/1970s and the 1990s/2000s were deeply interfused with geopolitics. Past attempts to substantiate its role fizzled out, but the chances that a “hydrogen society” will materialise seem much more likely today. With this a new set of politics reflecting goals of greater strategic autonomy emerge.

The extent of hydrogen’s penetration of the energy system remains to be seen and by extension its effect on geopolitics as well, but this will be fundamentally shaped by the form it takes. After all, it is an energy carrier that one must produce, which currently relies on the steam methane reforming of fossil gas that can be decarbonised were it paired with carbon capture and storage (CCS)—this is so-called blue hydrogen. Alternatively, electricity can power electrolysers. In a low carbon setting this would either be renewable or nuclear power yielding green and pink hydrogen, respectively. Which sort of hydrogen various actors pursue is driven by an intricate interplay of industrial policy and geopolitics.

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