It’s not just about the colour: too much hydrogen is unsustainable

(EurActiv, 21 Feb 2023) a risk for the bloc’s public finances and decarbonisation efforts, write Luke Haywood and Cosimo Tansini.

Luke Haywood is policy manager for climate, and Cosimo Tansini is the policy officer for renewable energy at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). 

Renewable energy sources are surging. Solar and wind power displaced gas and coal to become the first source of electricity generation in the EU for the first time last year.

However, the fossil gas and nuclear lobbies have not stopped carving out plans to keep our economies tied to their businesses for the coming decades. Rather than squarely advocating for gas and nuclear, they have discovered a new strategy that fits into the net-zero momentum: advocating for massive “green” hydrogen plans. 

Renewable hydrogen (or “green”) is produced through electrolysis using renewable electricity. While debates on hydrogen sustainability largely focus on its colour, the dangers go beyond this.

Even if green, large-scale hydrogen production requires massive investments and risks driving significant amounts of renewable electricity away from solutions that could decarbonise faster and cheaper. Slowing this transition will give extra lifespan to fossil fuel and nuclear power.

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EurActiv, 21 Feb 2023: It’s not just about the colour: too much hydrogen is unsustainable