The Impossibility of Bridging The “Last 10%” On the Way To “100% Clean Electricity”


Francis Menton

As mentioned in the last post, my new energy storage report, The Energy Storage Conundrum, mostly deals with issues that have previously been discussed on this blog; but the Report goes into considerable further detail on some of them.

One issue where the Report contains much additional detail is the issue of hydrogen as an alternative to batteries as the medium of energy storage. For examples of previous discussion on this blog of hydrogen as the medium of storage to back up an electrical grid see, for example, “The Idiot’s Answer To Global Warming: Hydrogen” from August 12, 2021, and “Hydrogen Is Unlikely Ever To Be A Viable Solution To The Energy Storage Conundrum” from June 13, 2022.

At first blush, hydrogen may seem to offer the obvious solution to the most difficult issues of energy storage for backing up intermittent renewable generation. In particular, the seasonal patterns of generation from wind and sun require a storage solution that can receive excess power production gradually for months in a row, and then discharge the stored energy over the course of as long as a year. No existing battery technology can do anything like that, largely because most of the stored energy will simply dissipate if it is left in a battery for a year before being called upon. But if you can make hydrogen from some source, you can store it somewhere for a year or even longer without significant loss. Problem solved!

Well, there must be some problem with hydrogen, or otherwise people would already be using it extensively. And indeed, the problems with hydrogen, while different from those of battery storage, are nevertheless equivalently huge. Mostly, to produce large amounts of hydrogen without generating the very greenhouse gas emissions you are seeking to avoid, turns out to be enormously costly. And then, once you have the hydrogen, distributing it and handling it are very challenging.

Unlike, say, oxygen or nitrogen, which are ubiquitous as free gases in the atmosphere, there is almost no free hydrogen available for the taking. It is all bound up either in hydrocarbons (aka fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas), carbohydrates (aka plants and animals), or water. To obtain free hydrogen, it must be separated from one or another of these substances by the input of energy. The easiest and cheapest way to get free hydrogen is to separate it from the carbon in natural gas. This is commonly done by a process called “steam reformation,” which leads to the carbon from the natural gas getting emitted into the atmosphere in the form of CO2. In other words, obtaining hydrogen from natural gas by the inexpensive process of steam reformation offers no benefits in terms of carbon emissions over just burning the natural gas. So, if you insist on getting free hydrogen without carbon emissions, you are going to have to get it from water by a process of electrolysis. Hydrogen obtained from water by electrolysis is known by environmental cognoscenti as “green hydrogen,” because of the avoidance of carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the electrolysis process requires a very large input of energy.

How much is it going to cost to produce green hydrogen as the storage medium for a mainly wind/solar grid? My Report first notes that as of today there is almost no production of this green hydrogen thing:

To date, there has been almost no commercial production of green hydrogen, because electrolysis is much more expensive than steam reformation of natural gas, and is therefore uneconomic without government subsidy. The JP Morgan Asset Management 2022 Annual Energy Paper states that ‘Current green hydrogen production is negligible…’

So we don’t have any large functioning projects from which we can get figures for how expensive green hydrogen is going to be. In the absence of that, I thought to undertake an exercise to calculate how much capacity of solar panels it would take to produce 288 MW of firm power for some jurisdiction, where the panels could either provide electricity directly to the consumers or alternatively produce hydrogen by electrolysis that could be stored and then burned in a power plant to produce electricity. (The 288 MW figure was selected because GE produces a turbine for natural gas power plants with this capacity, and says that it can convert the turbine for use of hydrogen as the fuel.). Here is that exercise as written up in my Report:

Consider a jurisdiction with steady electricity demand of 288 MW. . . . The electricity needs of our jurisdiction can be fully supplied by burning natural gas in the plant. But now suppose we want to use solar panels to provide the electricity and/or hydrogen for the plant sufficient to supply the 288 MW firm throughout the year. What capacity of solar panels must we build? Here is a calculation:

• Over the course of the year, the jurisdiction will use 288 MW × 8760 hours = 2,522,880 MWh of electricity.

• We start by building 288 MW of solar panels. We will assume that the solar panels produce at a 20% capacity factor over the course of a year. (Very sunny places such as the California desert may approach a 25% capacity factor from solar panels, but cloudy places such as the Eastern US and all of Europe get far less than 20% of capacity; in the UK, typical annualised solar capacity factors are under 15%). That means that the 288 MW of solar panels will only produce 288 × 8760 × 0.2 = 504,576 MWh in a year.

• Therefore, in addition to the 288MW of solar panels directly producing electricity, we need additional solar panels to produce hydrogen to burn in the power plant sufficient to generate the remaining 2,018,304 MWh.

• At 80% efficiency in the electrolysis process, it takes 49.3 kWh of electricity to produce 1 kilogram of hydrogen. GE says that its 288 MW plant will burn 22,400 kilograms of hydrogen per hour to produce the full capacity. Therefore, it takes 49.3 × 22,400 = 1,104,320 kWh, or approximately 1,104 MWh of electricity to obtain the hydrogen to run the plant for one hour. For the 1,104 MWh of electricity input, we get back 288 MWh of electricity output from the GE plant.

• Due to the 20% capacity factor of the solar panels, we will need to run the plant for 8760 × 0.8 = 7008 hours during the year. That means that we need solar panels sufficient to produce 7008 × 1104 = 7,736,832 MWh of electricity.

• Again because of the 20% capacity factor, to generate the 7,736,832MWh of electricity using solar panels, we will need panels with capacity to produce five times that much, or 38,684,160 MWh. Dividing by 8760 hours in a year, we will need solar panels with capacity of 4,416 MW to generate the hydrogen that we need for backup.

• Plus the 288MW of solar panels that we began with. So the total capacity of solar panels we will need to provide the 288MW firm power using green hydrogen as backup is 4,704 MW.

Or in other words, to use natural gas, you just need the 288 MW plant to provide 288 MW of firm power throughout the year. But to use solar panels plus green hydrogen backup, you need the same 288MW plant to burn the hydrogen, plus more than 16 times that much, or 4,704 MW of capacity of solar panels, to provide electricity directly and to generate sufficient hydrogen for the backup.

That calculation assumed a 20% capacity factor of production from the solar panels over the course of a year. It turns out that actual solar capacity factors are more like 10-13% for Germany, 10-11% for the UK, and about 12.6% in New York. (California, with few clouds, gets capacity factors somewhat in excess of 25%.). Doing the same series of calculations using a 10% capacity factor for the solar panels, you will need something like 9,936 MW of solar panels to provide your 288 MW of firm power for the year, with the green hydrogen as your storage medium.

In other words, you will need about 35 times the capacity of solar panels as the amount of firm power that you are committed to provide. The reasons for the vast differential include: the sun doesn’t shine fully half the time; most of the time when the sun does shine it is low in the sky; places like the UK, Germany and New York are cloudy more often than not; and there are significant losses of energy both in electrolyzing the water and then again in burning the hydrogen.

Anyone and everyone should feel free to check my arithmetic here. I’m fully capable of making mistakes. However, several people have already checked this.

My Report then takes a stab at translating the enormous incremental capital cost of all these solar panels into a very rough cost comparison of trying to generate the 288 MW of firm power from solar panels and green hydrogen versus simply burning natural gas in the plant. I got cost figures for the turbine plant and the solar panels from a March 2022 report of the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Using that data:

[T]he cost of the 288MW General Electric turbine power plant [would be] around $305 million, and the cost of the 4,704 MW of solar panels [would be] around $6.25 billion.

If you needed the 9,936 MW of solar panels because you live in a cloudy area, the $6.25 billion would become about $13 billion.

My very rough calculation in the Report, with the 20% solar capacity factor assumption, is that electricity from solar panels plus green hydrogen storage would start at somewhere in the range of 5 to 10 times more expensive than electricity from just burning the natural gas. At the 10% solar capacity factor assumption, make that 10 to 20 times more expensive.

And after all of this we still haven’t gotten to the very substantial additional engineering challenges of working with the very light, explosive hydrogen gas. A few examples from the Report:

  • Making enough green hydrogen to power the world means electrolysing the ocean. Fresh water is of limited supply, and is particularly scarce in the best places for solar power, namely deserts. When you electrolyse the ocean, you electrolyse not only the water, but also the salt, which then creates large amounts of highly toxic chlorine, which must be neutralised and disposed of. Alternatively, you can desalinise the seawater prior to electrolysis, which would require yet additional input of energy. There are people working on solving these problems, but solutions are far off and could be very costly.
  • Hydrogen is only about 30% as energy dense by volume as natural gas. This means that it takes about three times the pipeline capacity to transport the same energy content of hydrogen as of natural gas. Alternatively, you can compress the hydrogen, but that would also be an additional and potentially large cost.
  • Hydrogen is much more difficult to transport and handle than natural gas. Use of the existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure for hydrogen is very problematic, because many existing gas pipelines are made of steel, and hydrogen causes steel to crack. The subsequent leaks can lead to explosions.

Read the full article here.

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Tom Halla
December 11, 2022 2:27 pm

So very efficient!

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 11, 2022 3:23 pm

Even the first 10% is proving to be problematic.

Reply to  Scissor
December 11, 2022 5:29 pm

The first 10% in Australian regions was achieved without any significant impact. The prices started to climb once the coal fired power stations were decommissioned.

Germany has got to where it is today, over 20% intermittent, by causing grief in neighbouring countries. Particular regions in a connected network can get above 10% by exporting their grief. South Australia has done that in Australia. It is an easy sell because the intermittent electricity is zero marginal cost. There is an extremely wide held view that it has to lower cost. There is little appreciation that intermittency forces up the cost of dispatchable electricity and the true cost of non-dispatchable electricity is consequently negative because it forces up the cost of dispatchable electricity more than it reduces the average cost.

Tom Johnson
Reply to  RickWill
December 11, 2022 7:50 pm

The costs of wind, oil, and gas are all the same – zero! No one gets a bill from mother earth for any of them. The cost comes from getting them from where they are found to where they are needed. Right now, the cost of wind is much, much more than oil and gas.

Reply to  RickWill
December 11, 2022 10:23 pm

10% of electricity not 10% of total energy

David Dibbell
December 11, 2022 2:37 pm

Good, clear article and straightforward arithmetic. China and India have already weighed in with their programs to build new fleets of low-pollution coal-fired power plants. They have very smart scientists and engineers, and obviously chose piles of coal as the best method of storage for reliable electricity.

December 11, 2022 2:45 pm

How long before the public realizes “green” is mainly a buzzword intended to mean “unimpeachably virtuous”? (The official Greens NEVER will.)

In the ever-expanding universe of green hypocrisies, clear-cutting forests that supported a variety of life, and paving over the former forests with solar panels that support no life, and only generate electricity sporadically, is not only virtuous; it’s the Wave of the Future, the sparkling, twinkling Road to Utopia — especially in urbanized states like mine with precious little untrammeled land.

Last edited 1 month ago by tom_gelsthorpe
Reply to  tom_gelsthorpe
December 11, 2022 8:11 pm

Neil Oliver has some good words on the topic. (~12 min)

Reply to  tom_gelsthorpe
December 12, 2022 5:03 am

“impeachably villainous” is what it should mean.

December 11, 2022 2:47 pm

The BIL owns a vacant block next door to their home in the Adelaide Hills and is not happy he has to pay a quarterly water service charge for the meter on the block he doesn’t use. So I had to inform him Minister Bowen has the answer for the Vlad free rain that falls from the sky-
It’s the price of freedom isn’t it Minister?

December 11, 2022 2:47 pm

Two points
1) I challenge the claim that converting water to hydrogen and then creating electricity either by burning the hydrogen directly or a fuel cell is 80% efficient.
2) I doubt you can store hydrogen for 6 to 9 months without any losses.

David Dibbell
Reply to  MarkW
December 11, 2022 4:30 pm

“1) I challenge the claim that converting water to hydrogen and then creating electricity either by burning the hydrogen directly or a fuel cell is 80% efficient.”

The author does not claim that. He refers to 80% as the efficiency for the electrolysis step only. The assumed end-to-end efficiency would be 288/1104 or 26%, from his conclusion,
“For the 1,104 MWh of electricity input, we get back 288 MWh of electricity output from the GE plant.”

It doesnot add up
Reply to  David Dibbell
December 11, 2022 5:49 pm

80% is a bit of a unicorn ambition for electrolysis. The target for the PEM unit at Shell’s REFHYNE project was about 61%. Actual performance was not disclosed. Anticipated performance of offshore electrolysis is lower still, because energy must be consumed in pre-treating the seawater including an element of desalination. The Dutch PosHYdon project is an example.

Shell found that high water purity was needed at REFHYNE, requiring plastic pipework to minimise contamination. They also found:

The number of hours where power is cheaper than natural
gas + CO 2 would have limited utilisation factor of
electrolyser operation to only 10% in 2021


In addition, since mid 2021 an increase in price delta
between electrolyser H 2 and SMR H 2 has been observed

The economics really do not sound promising.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  It doesnot add up
December 11, 2022 6:54 pm

Perhaps I should put that last sentence differently:

The required subsidies will be eye-watering.

Rod Evans
Reply to  It doesnot add up
December 12, 2022 12:06 am

Or possibly, another description of these energy options is.
The number of little people having to work in the cold and go hungry in order to provide energy and sustenance to the controlling class, will be revolutionary….

Reply to  It doesnot add up
December 12, 2022 5:06 am

Greens don’t ‘do’ economics. But they do love a subsidy.

December 11, 2022 2:59 pm

Elon Musk said that a nuclear plant could be replaced by a solar panel installation of the same size. Elon is a real jokester, no?

It doesnot add up
Reply to  antigtiff
December 11, 2022 5:50 pm

Well, it could be, but it wouldn’t generate much…

John Hultquist
Reply to  antigtiff
December 11, 2022 6:43 pm
Reply to  John Hultquist
December 11, 2022 7:28 pm

No, Elon said a nuclear plant’s acreage could be covered with solar panels and provide the same power. What about the night time? Also, 100 square miles is 10 by 10 miles so confusion – not fusion reigns.

Curious George
December 11, 2022 3:10 pm

Computing everything for a year is not necessary. A day would have sufficed.

Last edited 1 month ago by Curious George
It doesnot add up
Reply to  Curious George
December 12, 2022 5:44 pm

No, it doesn’t suffice. The whole point is that you can go many days and whole seasons where renewables supply is inadequate.

December 11, 2022 3:13 pm

Your calculations are based on averages, which are useless when trying to build a reliable network.
You need to use peak extended usage for expected energy requirements and worst-case extended poor weather for production estimates.

Your numbers fail after just one cloudy day.

Reply to  harryfromsyd
December 12, 2022 5:14 am

The numbers are bad enough based on a simplistic scenario. Feel free to recalculate based on your (more realistic) scenario and share results with us.

Chris Hanley
December 11, 2022 4:18 pm

Capacity factor = actual output/maximum possible output.
Comparing the capacity factor of legacy thermal electricity generation with that of solar or wind is not like comparing the efficiency of a full-time employee with that of a regular part-time employee.
It is like comparing the efficiency of a full time employee with that of a part time employee who turns up only when they feel like it.

December 11, 2022 4:33 pm

Great piece and it got me thinking – always dangerous – about xeno’s paradox and how progress to a final goal becomes more difficult (in a way – you make less progress) the closer you get to it, especially if each “half-step” requires the same amount of energy
like many government regulatory concepts that start out as a good idea (eliminating smog in LA, don’t dump chemicals directly into bird’s nests, etc.) that make a great deal of progress in the beginning but need to continue to justify their existence even after they’ve pretty much “got there,” the decision to get that last 10 percent is almost never balanced against the continually increasing costs associated with ever smaller benefits.
or i misred it completely and only the headline got stuck in my head…

December 11, 2022 4:52 pm

In other words, you will need about 35 times the capacity of solar panels as the amount of firm power that you are committed to provide. 

This fits reasonably well with the 3.8% CF of my panels that have operated off-grid without fossil fuel back up for over a decade now. I have achieved 99.7% availability from the system.

I am located at 37S and have 3kW of solar panels feeding a 5kWh battery supplying a load that varies between 2 and 3kWh per day.

There are ways to improve on the capacity factor that might get it above 5%.

My worst month is May due to overcast conditions. If I oriented the fixed panels to maximise May collection, I could get away with fewer panels or lift availability.

It is inevitable that any weather dependent system will require dispatchable generation support. The only so-called renewable that meets that requirement is wood. Hydrogen storage systems are way too capital intensive to get beyond small scale that demonstrate the process is extraordinarily expensive..

CD in Wisconsin
December 11, 2022 4:52 pm

Use of the existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure for hydrogen is very problematic, because many existing gas pipelines are made of steel, and hydrogen causes steel to crack. The subsequent leaks can lead to explosions.


….and hydrogen burns invisibly (or nearly so), does it not? Amazing how none of this ever gets mentioned when the hydrogen pushers open their mouths.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
December 12, 2022 8:03 am

In the UK the evidence points to a blend of 20%hydrogen and 80% natural gas as being compatible with the existing pipeline infrastructure. Higher concentrations would require not only significant network and infrastructure upgrades but hydrogen specific appliances and boilers.

Where polyethylene pipelines exist they would be safe to transport 100% hydrogen but the pipelines would still need to be adjusted because you need to push through approximately 3 times as much hydrogen to supply the same amount of energy.Over 22m households are connected to the UK gas grid.

Gilbert K. Arnold
December 11, 2022 5:21 pm

an old engineering rule of thumb goes something like this.. the cost of going from 90% to 99% is the same as going from 0% to 90%, and the cost of going from 99% to 99.9% is the cost of going from 0% to 99%.

Last edited 1 month ago by Gilbert K. Arnold
It doesnot add up
December 11, 2022 5:34 pm

Hooray for Old Math – so simple, so very simple that even a child can do it.

Apologies to Tom Lehrer.

Here is a very stylised picture of daily solar output over a year: it rises from zero in midwinter to a maximum in midsummer, and declines symmetrically to the next midwinter. The solar panel output is the sum of the blue trapezium and the yellow triangles, which just hide the tops of the triangular rise and fall of the underlying blue triangles that represent the whole panel output. The red triangles can be thought of as the output required from storage to keep a steady level of supply over the year at the level of the height of the trapezium. The area of the red triangles is smaller than the yellow ones: the ratio of the areas reflects the round trip efficiency of our storage, with supply from the yellow triangles being used to fill the storage drawn down by the red triangles.

The average capacity factor depends on the height of the midsummer maximum relative to the nominal capacity of the panels. The area of a triangle is half the base times the height, and we have two triangles with a base of half a year. So we can think of half the height of the maximum (daily output) as being the average capacity factor.

The red and yellow triangles are similar triangles , since they share the same angles. That means that their corresponding sides bear a common ratio to each other. The square of that ratio determines the ratio of their areas, which as we have already discussed is the storage round trip efficiency.

With these facts in place we can calculate as follows:

For a storage round trip efficiency of 81% (new batteries), the length ratio is 90%, for 64% it is 80% and so forth down to say 36% giving 60% length ratio for hydrogen based storage (based on PEM efficiency of 60% to make hydrogen, and 60% CCGT efficiency to burn it).

The overall maximum solar output has to be divided in the ratio 1:length ratio to give the height of the trapezium or the constant power that can be generated, so for our example of hydrogen, maximum daily output will be (1+0.6)/0.6 or 2 2/3 times the level of constant power. The share of the total energy generated that is diverted to storage is (1/(1+0.6))^2, or 25/64ths or about 39% of the annual output, with just 14% (36% of 39%) being returned from the storage, and 39%-14% or 25% of all generation being wasted in the round trip losses, and 75% actually being supplied to consumers. Storage has to be able to handle 14/75ths of annual demand, or 68+ days as resupplied. The hydrogen store must hold 1/0.6 or 5/3rds as much or 114 days of demand in terms of energy content.

But this is not the end of the story. To utilise all the surplus generation, electrolyser capacity must be sufficient to handle the maximum midsummer day surplus so it needs to be 5/3rds of demand too. Yet that full capacity is only needed on the peak day. At the margin, electrolyser utilisation is zero. The first bit of electrolyser capacity gets used 1/1.6 or 62.5% of the time – the base of the yellow triangles as a fraction of the year. Each addition to capacity effectively gets used less and less. It surely makes little sense to try to use all the “surplus” output. You need more output, some of which will be curtailed, so that your marginal investment in electrolyser capacity has an economic return.

I looked at this for UK wind. These surplus duration charts show what percentage of the time a given level of surplus would occur. The chart is a mouseover, and shows the curves for various levels of wind capacity against otherwise constant demand and supply (from nuclear). If you pick a capacity utilisation you can read out the maximum electrolysis capacity that could be installed to guarantee it as a minimum. Everything to the left and above that represents curtailed energy. The shape of the curves does rather support the triangular simplification I have analysed above.

Simple solar.png
Kit P
December 11, 2022 5:38 pm

No calculations are necessary until you show hydrogen can be stored safely.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Kit P
December 11, 2022 6:46 pm

Well, it can and is. Comments below explain some of the considerations.

Kit P
Reply to  John Hultquist
December 12, 2022 5:31 pm

I have stored a winter supply of wood beside my house. Coal plants routinely store large piles of coal.

L have safely stored small quantities of hydrogen produced by a PWR.

Large power plants use hydrogen to cool the generator so they store hydrogen.

However there have been accidents where a small amount of hydrogen has killed workers and blown out windows 5 miles away.

I am very confident that you can show me a safety evaluation or EIS that I would sign off on for storing large quantities for making electricity.

At the very least, safer ways of storing energy exist.

December 11, 2022 5:40 pm

This is just inaccurate. We already have commercial hydrogen pipelines (made of steel). High pressure high purity hydrogen is used extensively in industry. Not saying anything about cost; that’s a problem, but it you have low cost hydrogen, it could be transported in pipelines and used as fuel in a wide variety of applications.

Hydrogen is much more difficult to transport and handle than natural gas. Use of the existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure for hydrogen is very problematic, because many existing gas pipelines are made of steel, and hydrogen causes steel to crack. The subsequent leaks can lead to explosions.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Tom.1
December 11, 2022 6:02 pm

Industrial pipelines are short, and usually mounted on pipe racks: they have few branches if any. That makes replacement easy, particularly as the associated plant is also likely to undergo statutory maintenance shutdowns at regular intervals that provide an opportunity.

Gas networks are complex, operating at a range of pressures, lengthy, with lots of branching joints, and mostly buried underground. Continuity of supply is an important factor. A large percentage of the pipe is unsuited to hydrogen use and would have to be replaced.

Reply to  Tom.1
December 11, 2022 6:45 pm

The pipes used in industrial applications are a special type of steel. It is not the general purpose type of steel that has been used in pipelines. That generic steel would have to be replaced by the specialized steel before the existing pipelines could be used for hydrogen.

Reply to  MarkW
December 11, 2022 7:47 pm

Microsoft Word – Doc 121 04 E.doc (

Carbon steel is the alloy family most commonly used in hydrogen gas transmission pipelines. Various carbon steel specifications for pipelines are listed in Appendix C. The choice of the specific grade will depend on many factors including the severity of the service, availability and relative cost. In general, the common carbon steel piping grades such as API 5L X52 (and lower strength grades) and ASTM A 106 Grade B have been widely used in hydrogen gas service with few reported problems. This good service is attributed to the relatively low strength of these alloys, which imparts resistance to hydrogen embrittlement and the other brittle fracture mechanisms.API 5L pipe is available in two Product Specification Levels (PSL 1 and 2). PSL 2 incorporates desirable requirements, not included in PSL 1, including minimum notch toughness energy, maximums for tensile strength and carbon equivalent. These requirements help ensure base metal and weld hardness are maintained at acceptable values and hydrogen embrittlement concerns are minimized. Therefore, PSL 2 material is advantageous for hydrogen piping. Further, it is recommended that only lower strength API 5L grades (X52 or lower) be used. API 5L PSL 2 grades meet the requirements discussed below. 

Last edited 1 month ago by Tom.1
Reply to  Tom.1
December 11, 2022 8:59 pm

Rather than complaining about pipelines. why not address the cost?

Reply to  eastbaylarry
December 12, 2022 2:02 am

When the cost is prohibitive, why introduce inaccurate technical information to support the argument?

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Tom.1
December 12, 2022 8:16 am

In the UK it has been calculated that a blend of 20% hydrogen and 80% natural gas would be safe to transport through the existing pipeline infrastructure. Higher concentrations would require not only significant network and infastructure upgrades but also hydrogen specific appliances and boilers. There are over 22m homes in the UK on the gas supply network.

Tom Johnson
December 11, 2022 7:36 pm

This is a good start, maybe even a great start, but it doesn’t cover the costs of storing the hydrogen over the year(s), nor does it cover the land area costs for the solar panels. Providing the 288 mWatts would take about 700 acres for just the square feet of the panels (at 10 Watts/square foot over their lifetime). This would clearly get to well over a thousand acres for the stands, service roads and power grid for them. Double that if it is in a cloudy area and add much more if there isn’t a nearby flat couple of thousand acres.

The storage of enough hydrogen hasn’t been invented, yet, either. At least the electrolysis process to make it is a known technique. Storage of that much hydrogen hasn’t been invented yet, either.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Tom Johnson
December 12, 2022 4:10 am

The main ideas for bulk storage are to use depleted gas fields and salt caverns. The latter have actually been used to a limited extent, for example

December 11, 2022 10:22 pm

You forgot about the first 10%

with all the so called renewables it still is less than the first 10%

Rod Evans
December 11, 2022 11:43 pm

Today 12/12/22 7.30 am here in the central UK the temperature is 1 deg. C. Overcast zero sun at this time of year. There is also zero wind. The option to generate any Green hydrogen is zero.
Currently our ~11 thousand wind turbines (roughly 9 thousand onshore and 2.3 thousand offshore) are producing barely 1 GW of electricity to the grid.
One single interconnector to Holland is out performing our entire wind turbine industry, supplying more energy to the UK than 11 thousand wind turbines.
The coal power generator at just one remaining plant is producing 1.3 GW. thankfully.
That is the status of electricity power generation in the UK currently.

Peta of Newark
December 12, 2022 12:58 am

I’m sitting here in the midst of a glorious example of how ‘Everything is now wrong’

Am having a coffee in a Wetherspoon.

On Saturday and on my way here from Newark, I called in another drinking house (a Marston’s) for a pot of tea to sustain the motoring adventure. Marston’s being more ‘restaurant’ than pub. (Their Cowboy Burgers are to die for)
A notice on the door stated they were only offering a very limited menu (Carvery and microwaved curry) because of;
Uncertainties about their gas supply
They patently were (not) ‘cooking on gas’~
Tea was good tho, hit the mark.

Today, as it has been for the last fortnight, this Wetherspoon is being heated by industrial electric fan heaters. Main heating system is ‘Off’
What that’s costing I dread to think – huuuuge single-glazed windows and no curtains/blinds/drapes – as is Wetherspoon’s trademark decor.
But they *have* to keep the kitchen working, selling beer is a loss leader for them.

And so to the coffee machine.
Maybe 2 years ago, ‘one’ could have a Real Metal Teaspoon to make your brew, stir in the sugar etc
But, they all got stolen. Nice world innit, so full of lovely people.

So little wooden lollipop sticks arrived as ‘stirrers’. Nice fat chunky ones but due to Biomass burning and the skyrocketing price of wood, the original chunky ones got thinner and thinner to the extent that just using a single one is hopeless (they effectively melt in hot water) you need a handful of them just to stir a bit of sugar into your coffee.
But wood is good innit – ‘sustainable and all that’ as it is.

And today:
The wooden stirrers are all gone and in their place – industrial sized plastic spoons.
Thanks Boris.

(What became of the ‘Scary Clown’ meme that everyone panicked about recently?
Because Boris Johnson is/was The Very Actual Embodiment of a Scary Clown – and a very very dangerous one to boot – just how much damage has he done?)

Reply to  Peta of Newark
December 12, 2022 8:51 am

Just a thought for all the ‘end petroleum’ fanatics: WHERE do they suppose those plastic spoons come from, and WHAT are they made from? Without petroleum, our civilization would collapse in a heartbeat!

December 12, 2022 3:41 am
Paul C
December 12, 2022 6:02 am

Wouldn’t the use of hydrogen also de-rate the turbine power output? Saying it can be converted to use hydrogen does not imply it can produce the same power as efficiently from hydrogen.

Reply to  Paul C
December 12, 2022 8:53 am

I don’t know the relatrive energy levels, but I’m quite sure that helium is MUCH lower than natural gas, so it would take a LOT of hydrogen to replace the NG!

Hatter Eggburn
December 12, 2022 9:26 am

On a cold still anticyclonic winter day, it will be the last 95% that will be impossible to bridge from renewables.
And no.
Batteries cant help – too small.

December 13, 2022 6:07 am

Hydrogen explosions are far more violent than methane ones.

And in the UK now there are no service stations where you can fuel up your hydrogen car. I recall that only 12 were sold last year so you could suggest lack of demand.

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