Climate friendly, but technically demanding
Will hydrogen soon replace Russian natural gas?
Climate-friendly hydrogen can replace fossil fuels: In the past decade, discoveries of natural soil reserves have increased. But before renewables can actually be exploited, many hurdles must be overcome.
Posted Date: 02/20/2023 at 7:35 PM
Updated: 10:37 AM
Large amounts of naturally occurring, climate-friendly hydrogen are found in the Earth’s interior. They can meet the world’s energy needs for thousands of years.
Joshka SchaffnerJournalism student at Ringier
Away from Russian natural gas toward a climate-friendly energy source: this utopia could become a reality thanks to global discoveries of underground hydrogen reserves. So she writes for the American science magazine “Science”. Hydrogen has been traded as a promising energy carrier for several years. In combustion, only water vapor is produced.
Years ago, geologists discovered a natural hydrogen field in the African country of Mali. It proves what a handful of researchers have been saying for years: There are large amounts of gas in the Earth’s interior that can be burned without carbon dioxide emissions.
Experts previously assumed that the gas was extremely rare on Earth. So he went unnoticed for a long time. However, discoveries of the past decade indicate that reserves can be found all over the world. According to the model developed by the US Geological Survey, a government research organization, it could cover the world’s energy needs for thousands of years.
Hydrogen research is in its infancy
Energy companies and startups are now operating on several continents to take advantage of the energy resource. “I think it has the potential to replace all fossil fuels,” Vyacheslav Zgonik, CEO of US energy company Natural Hydrogen Energy, told Science.
For this, it is said, you have to solve some technical hurdles. When stored, gas takes up a lot of space. So transportation is expensive. In addition, research is still in its infancy: how and why an energy source forms in the Earth’s interior, and where it is located, remains unanswered. “The interest is great, but the scientific facts are missing,” says Frédéric Victor Donzi, a geophysicist at the University of Grenoble.
Commercial hydrogen is currently produced either by burning fossil fuels or from electricity. A lot of energy is lost in the process – and depending on the method, there are still significant carbon dioxide emissions. Discovered nature reserves can solve these problems in the future.