Report: Low-carbon hydrogen production needs 400 1GW nuclear reactors

(EurActiv, 20 May 2021) To produce low-carbon hydrogen on a global scale, 400 1GW nuclear reactors would be needed, according to a report published by the French parliamentary office for the evaluation of scientific and technological choices (OPECST). EURACTIV France reports.

These days, 99% of hydrogen is produced by inexpensive but carbon-intensive fossil fuels. The cleaner alternative of low-carbon hydrogen involves the use of electrolysis, which includes decarbonised renewable energy sources like hydroelectric or nuclear reactors.

When it comes to nuclear power, OPECST is clear. “The path towards low-carbon hydrogen from nuclear electricity would represent 400 new 1 GW nuclear reactors [on a global scale],” according to the report published on Tuesday (18 May).

Especially when several countries, including France, “are reducing the share of nuclear power in their energy mix” such a path would be “chimerical”, the reportadded.

According to OPECST’s calculations, to make hydrogen by electrolysis France would require “the equivalent of four nuclear power stations dedicated solely to the production of electricity.”

“Hydrogen production represents 2% of French anthropogenic CO2 production,” said OPECST vice-president Gérard Longuet, who described traditional hydrogen production as “unbearable”.

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EurActiv, 20 May 2021: Report: Low-carbon hydrogen production needs 400 1GW nuclear reactors