Although blue and green hydrogen are the same product, the two have some significant differences during the production process. But what exactly are these differences, and which is the best option?
That’s what we’ll be exploring in this blog post. Read on to learn more about blue hydrogen and green hydrogen, and the main differences between the two. We’ll also be exploring which is the best choice, blue hydrogen or green hydrogen.
What is Blue Hydrogen?
Blue hydrogen refers to hydrogen that utilises natural gas as the feedstock but incorporates carbon capture and storage (CCS). It is a low-carbon alternative to traditional hydrogen production and can be a great energy transition towards a cleaner energy future.
The process of producing hydrogen includes SMR – steam methane reforming. This is a tried and tested process that extracts hydrogen from natural gas.
This method incorporated CCS (carbon capture and storage) to reduce and mitigate carbon dioxide(CO₂) emissions. The carbon dioxide is captured and stored under the ground, which in turn, prevents it from being released into the atmosphere.
The process depends on natural gas, however. This is a finite resource – it will run out in time. It also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. The CCS infrastructure for large-scale blue hydrogen deployment is still developing and evolving.
You may be wondering why it’s called ‘blue’ hydrogen. This is because the CO₂ emissions throughout the production are reduced, but not completely eliminated. Blue hydrogen can reduce emissions by up to 90% as opposed to conventional methods. However, it does still rely on fossil fuels, which means that it can add to your carbon footprint.
What is Green Hydrogen?
Green hydrogen is hydrogen that has been produced using electrolysis. The electrolysis stage is powered by renewable energy sources such as wind power or solar power as opposed to fossil fuels and other sources of electricity.
Because of the method used, green hydrogen is produced with zero carbon emissions, making it a truly sustainable and clean energy solution.
If you’re wondering exactly how electrolysis works, it involves using electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. An electrolyzer is used to pass an electric current through water. This causes the water molecules to break apart. The hydrogen gas that is produced can then be captured and utilised.
The key advantage of green hydrogen is that it’s eco-friendly – it uses renewable energy during the electrolysis stage and offers a carbon-free alternative to conventional hydrogen production (which typically relies on fossil fuels).
In fact, green hydrogen is widely considered as the pathway to decarbonising sectors that are tough to electrify directly – for example, transportation, heavy industry and for long-term energy storage.
Another benefit of green hydrogen is that it has the potential to contribute to the integration of renewable energy into the national grid – green hydrogen can be produced during times of excess renewable energy generation. This means it can be stored for later use.
The ability to store and convert renewable energy into fuel makes green hydrogen a valuable asset. That being said, there are some disadvantages to consider with green hydrogen.
For example, the cost of electrolysis equipment and renewable energy sources can be relatively high, although it is steadily decreasing over time. It can also be tough to scale up green hydrogen production and establish the necessary infrastructure to enable the widespread use of green hydrogen.
Which is Best: Blue or Green Hydrogen?
Both blue and green hydrogen are effective sources of energy, but one is notably more environmentally friendly than the other.
In terms of protecting the environment, green hydrogen is considered the best option – produced through electrolysis using renewable energy sources, green hydrogen boasts a carbon-free process.
Blue hydrogen is also a low-carbon alternative in comparison to conventional hydrogen, utilising natural gas and CCS technology to reduce carbon emissions.
However, it still has a carbon footprint. That being said, it can still be used to bridge the gap towards a carbon-neutral world and reduces the impact of climate change.
Blue hydrogen may be the best option in instances where green hydrogen is not accessible or cost-effective and is still a positive step towards reducing your carbon footprint.
Ultimately, a combination of both green hydrogen and blue hydrogen may be the best option to meet all your necessary energy needs and to move towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.