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Hydrogen vs. Electric | The Pros and Cons

Is hydrogen energy better than electric ?

Hydrogen has great potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the effects of climate change. Governments and industry are pouring tens of billions of dollars into various hydrogen technologies.

But hydrogen is a leaky gas whose own powerful warming effects have been widely ignored. Whether the hydrogen energy transition contributes to climate change depends on how it is produced, managed and used.

Today, hydrogen is mainly used in specialized applications such as fertilizer production and oil refining. But backers envision it being used for everything from transport fuel to heating and cooking homes to wind and solar power.


Newfound warming ability


Scientists have long known that hydrogen causes indirect warming of the atmosphere. Based on new insights into these effects, researchers at the EDF and elsewhere say it has a much greater capacity to heat up than previously thought.

Furthermore, standard scientific calculus used in contracting and reporting requirements systematically underestimate hydrogen’s strong short-term warming effects.

That’s because hydrogen doesn’t linger in the atmosphere for long, and its warming effects fade after about two decades. But climate impacts are almost always calculated on a 100-year cycle — masking damage from hydrogen escape in the near future.

Using the latest atmospheric science and measurements over a 20-year period to better reflect the effects of recent warming, EDF climate scientists calculated that hydrogen is six times more warming than currently recognized.

 

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