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Expert commented on plans to replace natural gas with hydrogen

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Bloomberg News Agency has published a report “Prospects of hydrogen economy” in which it is stated that already in thirty years the lightest gas in nature will cost no more than methane - from 220 to 440 dollars per thousand cubic meters, depending on the place of production. Steel mills, cement factories, automobiles, and ships will opt for environmentally friendly fuel and cut their harmful emissions by a third.

In the bright future of the first number of the Mendeleyev Table, despite the sad history of blimp construction, lack of clear economic calculations of its final consumer price, and, most importantly - scientific advances to safely store and transport H2 on an industrial scale, believe not only in the West but also in Russia. Thus, the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, according to the newspaper “Kommersant”, proposed to give direct access to the pipelines of Gazprom to independent producers of hydrogen to reduce the cost of its export to Europe.

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In order to establish this promising, in the opinion of officials, direction, they propose to amend the legislation by December 2022 and allow the construction of specialized plants in the immediate vicinity of the pipe, including, if necessary - in the protective zone.

The fact that no hydrogen market exists yet, and it is far from certain that one will appear, does not seem to bother the government representatives. Nor are they bothered by the opinion of scientists, who openly talk about the phantasmagoric plans of Western politicians to turn H2 into a global energy resource. Roman Samsonov, vice president of the Russian Gas Society, told why this is not going to happen in the foreseeable future. His lecture “Oil and Gas Industry of Russia: Past, Present, Future” took place in St. Petersburg within the framework of the All-Russian Conference Contest of Young Scientists “Topical Issues of Subsoil Use.” Forpost presents excerpts from the speech.

Самсонов
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On the role of hydrocarbons

Methane and other natural resources sent to us by God will long remain the basis of the global fuel and energy balance. There’s no getting around it, so today, when we talk about decarbonization, we need to understand that in many ways it’s hype. And it, like all waves, goes away. Then some other wave will appear, and the person who lives only by the hype will find himself out of business.

About environmental protection

Today’s information agenda is such that we often forget the role of minerals and talk only about the environment. This is wrong. No subsystem should be torn out of the system, and we cannot draw far-reaching conclusions based on it alone. Sooner or later, all of this will leave the earth, comes out from under the ground, into the atmosphere, and then in some way or another it returns to us.

About the timing of the energy transition

True professionals will never tell you the exact year when natural gas consumption will exceed oil consumption, when the energy transition will take place, or even when it has started. The transformation of the fuel and energy complex is an ongoing process. And in order to understand at least approximately the significance of this or that resource in ten, twenty, or thirty years, it is necessary to see the whole picture, not to “revolve around” any one source of energy.

Самсонов
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No one knows how many years it will take for humanity to arrive at an energy system based entirely on renewable sources and hydrogen. Because no one can measure the real speed of scientific and technological progress and all the changes occurring under its influence.

About coal

Here, it would seem that coal is a dirty resource, it burns badly. But in fact, there are ways to use it more efficiently and to minimize the emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere that occur during its combustion. These technologies have been known since Soviet times. Coal was crushed, mixed with water, and the pulp was made. But it is still much less competitive compared to gas.

Another thing is that there are regions where it is extracted and where its use is economically feasible. There, of course, it is necessary to implement developments that would reduce the anthropogenic impact on the environment.

About hydrogen

No one will argue that hydrogen is a cleaner resource than natural gas. At the same time, its specific energy content is three times less than that of methane. Can we say in this case that it is better? And another important question: do we have any hydrogen at all? Well, we definitely have methane, and we have a lot of it, while Europe does not have it (in the amount required by the EU - ed.). Maybe that’s why they need hydrogen?

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Of course, it would be a sin for Gazprom not to take advantage of the current situation and start exporting it. But there are a few problems concerning the speed of the very scientific progress we talked about (there are still no available technologies to guarantee safe storage and transportation of H2 - ed.). In my opinion, the scenarios of the European community, which wants to get energy from hydrogen or renewable sources, are written out of despair. The desire to reduce dependence on imports in the energy industry, the cornerstone of sustainable economic development.

But there is also elementary pragmatism. You've probably been to Germany and seen that European countries never have a heating surplus like Russia. Of course, this says something about our shortcomings: we simply throw half of our energy resources into the air because we use them so ineffectively. But we have no shortage of these resources.

Whenever you are being told that the future belongs to hydrogen, look at the map of our country. I had to fly from Moscow to Sakhalin and back. Well, when you fly over vast territories where there is nothing at all, the question disappears of itself. What kind of hydrogen can there be?

About energy security

Every citizen of our country must have an opportunity not only to get warm, which is very important, because we are a Nordic country, but also to switch on the electricity or air conditioning, or cook food at any time. Moreover, the energy supply must be inexpensive and reliable, this is one of the goals of sustainable development proclaimed by the UN, and not only we but the entire international community should strive for it. This is logical, because if there is energy, then there is life. Well, without oil and gas we will not achieve this goal, it is out of the question.

The organizer of the series of lectures for the participants of the All-Russian Conference Contest of Young Scientists "Topical Issues of Subsoil Use" was the International Center of Competence in Mining Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO. They were delivered by leading experts in the field of fuel and energy complex, such as Sergey Serdyukov, ex-technical director of Nord Stream and Nord Stream-2 projects, Vladimir Tolkachev, president of GEOTECH Seismic, and others.