|Eden Energy, the Australian company looking to frack in old South Wales instead of New South Wales, is at the forefront of the movement to create and promote what are misleadingly termed ‘transitional fuels’ – such as hythane.
Hythane is 80% natural gas (shale gas or coal bed methane) and 20% hydrogen. This purports to be 15% more efficient in energy terms and 50% less polluting in terms of emissions. Where do they get the hydrogen from? They extract it from natural gas (shale gas or coal bed methane)!! Normally extracting hydrogen from natural gas produces harmful carbon dioxide emissions – Eden have pioneered a way of extracting some (almost certainly not all) of the carbon as a solid. All this is ‘sold’ as much cleaner than traditional coal/oil/gas burning – hence, they claim, a worthwhile transition away from the old dirty fuels before we eventually get clean renewables.
This is, of course, one big con. Hythane relies 100% on (fracked) gas for its component elements and requires considerable energy and resources to create, and quite complex infrastructure (and energy) to transport, store and dispense. After all that, it remains essentially a fossil fuel that contributes green house gases when it is eventually burnt. Its total carbon footprint, like methane obtained from shale gas and CBM is likely to be significantly greater than sticking coal and oil into adjacent powers stations. This is before we even get on to the implications of fracking!!
So it is not even remotely a transition to a cleaner energy future. It is more a transition from big business making a fortune from one way of fueling internal combustion engines and thermal power stations, to another way of fueling internal combustion engines and thermal power stations. It is a way to a quicker and bigger buck than investing in the more sustainable renewables and associated technologies that have to be the real future – sooner or later. It will certainly be later, if Eden and all the frackers get their way.