The chair of the UK Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association (UK HFCA), Christopher Jackson, has stepped down because he could no longer support blue hydrogen, which he warned could prolong fossil fuel use and damage the nation's climate agenda.
“I believe passionately that I would be betraying future generations by remaining silent on that fact that blue hydrogen is at best an expensive distraction, and at worst a lock-in for continued fossil fuel use that guarantees we will fail to meet our decarbonisation goals,” Jackson said on LinkedIn.
Blue hydrogen is produced from fossil gas linked to carbon capture and storage (CCS) in a process that can filter out some 95% of the CO2 from the gas, but never all of it. Green hydrogen made via electrolysis from renewable power and water, by contrast, is 100% CO2-free.
Many climate activists and scientists warn that using blue hydrogen could perpetuate the use of fossil fuels for decades, and would waste precious resources by building up parallel infrastructures for blue and for green H2.
The UK in its national hydrogen strategy presented this week that aims at building 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen capacity by 2030 has opted for a “twin-track” approach to support both green and blue hydrogen, and next year plans to provide further detail about its production strategy. The EU and its largest member, Germany, in their hydrogen strategies haven’t excluded blue H2 either, but made clear that they only see it as a limited and temporary bridge technology.
In a column commenting in the UK strategy, UK HFCA chief executive Celia Greaves explicitly states that the association supports the government’s ‘twin-track’ approach, which she said will help the UK scale up and decarbonise more quickly.
Jackson by contrast said he could no longer chair the UK HFCA as he cannot be a neutral party on the topic of blue hydrogen, which he believes is the “wrong answer.”
Jackson is the CEO and founder of green hydrogen and fuel cell project developer Protium Green Solutions.
Jackson acknowledged that green hydrogen is not a silver bullet to every challenge in the pathway to decarbonisation, but said he believes it will play an essential role to provide energy for hard-to-abate sectors.
“I fervently believe that without green hydrogen, we are guaranteeing that the world will fail in its efforts to prevent temperature rises above 1.5 degrees by 2050,” Jackson said.
“And for me, the idea of failure isn’t an option I can accept. That is the first reason why I have decided to step down as Chair, to ensure that my focus is on what matters more than anything else – building UK green hydrogen projects that add value to end users and that accelerate the decarbonisation of our economy.”