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  • by Trevor Loveday

Hydrogen energy plan could add 250bn litres to UK annual water demand

As the government unveiled its strategy for deploying hydrogen to displace, at least partially, natural gas, experts have highlighted findings that the move could add 250 bn litres to UK water demand by 2050 – about 5% of the current total demand.

Writing in the current issue of THE WATER REPORT, PA Consulting, described hydrogen as being a “key feature” in the government’s plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions. But it warns of the impact on the water sector in a number the scenarios under consideration for hydrogen production: ”In many areas of the country, water is already scarce and will become scarcer with the continued onset of climate change – how will water for hydrogen be sourced?

PA emphasised that national-scale hydrogen production could create “a significant cross-sector dependency, with the need to work tightly with other areas of government, regulators and industry to ensure water supply was available in the right place at the right time and in the right amounts.”

In its hydrogen strategy published last week the government acknowledged hydrogen production as “likely to need significant amounts of water.” And it has pledged to “continue engaging with the Environment Agency, regional water resources groups and water companies to ensure appropriate plans are in place for sustainable water resources.”

The greatest intensity of water use in hydrogen production comes with the near zero-carbon methods through splitting water molecules with electricity (electrolysis) or high temperatures (thermolysis) generated from renewable or nuclear power sources. PA highlighted Water UK’s concerns that “if hydrogen emerges as an alternative fuel then water demand would increase 15-20%”

The government strategy plots a proposed path starting in 2022 to large-scale production and national distribution by the late 2020s. Its roadmap includes low-carbon hydrogen production using chemical methods requiring sequestration of carbon dioxide.

PA’s article is in the July edition of THE WATER REPORT available only to subscribers.


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