Wind is 14% of Europe’s electricity today. Total renewables are 32% and growing rapidly. But electricity is only 24% of our energy mix. The rest is heating and transport, nearly all of which is powered by fossil fuels.
To decarbonise the economy we have to get fossil fuels out of heating and transport. And the best approach is to electrify heating and transport. Not least because electric cars and heat pumps are more energy efficient than their fossil counterparts.
But we can’t electrify everything by 2050. Think shipping, aviation and heating in many industrial processes such as chemicals. But we can electrify many of these things indirectly by powering them with hydrogen produced from electricity – via electrolysis.
Electrolysis of wind power is happening in some small projects today though is expensive. But costs will fall with scale and efficiency. And renewable hydrogen will then compete with fossil hydrogen which is 95% of the hydrogen used today.
To be zero-carbon, hydrogen will have to come from renewables. But renewable hydrogen will still be less efficient than the direct electrification of heating and transport.
Author: Giles Dickson – CEO, WindEurope