Green hydrogen: robbing ‘electricity Peter’ to pay ‘transport Paul’?

(EurActiv, 21 Jun 2021) An upcoming EU Delegated Act should stipulate that green hydrogen be produced from additional renewables, argues Geert De Cock.

Geert De Cock is the electricity and energy policy manager at sustainable transport group Transport & Environment.

Do you know the expression “robbing Peter to pay Paul”? It refers to a 16th-century event whereby the assets of a church with patron Saint Peter were used to pay for repairs of the cathedral of Saint Paul.

The expression generally means that a person borrows or even steals money from someone to settle a debt owed to another person. Needless to say, this is not prudent financial management, as the person will have to keep stealing or borrowing money to pay off an ever-increasing number of debts. Today, we’d maybe refer to it as a Ponzi scheme.

This old expression came to mind while thinking about green hydrogen, made from renewables. If electrolysers source renewable electricity from the grid, isn’t this a bit like “robbing Peter to pay Paul”?

The net effect of diverting renewable electrons away from powering our homes or electric cars towards an electrolyser to produce green hydrogen would be that flexible sources of power will fill the gap left behind.

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EurActiv, 21 Jun 2021: Green hydrogen: robbing ‘electricity Peter’ to pay ‘transport Paul’?