Hydrogen: A Silver Bullet or a Red Herring? - A COP26 Event

Hydrogen: A Silver Bullet or a Red Herring?

This event, co-organised by the University of Glasgow (Dr Amanda Owen and Prof. Jaime Toney), the European Federation of Geologists (Glen Burridge), and The Geological Society (Florence Bullough) brought together expertise from industry and academia with the general public to discuss the role that hydrogen may have in reaching net zero targets. 

Hydrogen has the potential to be an effective source of energy; it produces significantly less greenhouse gases than current gas based systems, and has the potential to be implemented within existing infrastructures, reducing the costs of the energy transition. Although research and pilot schemes have been conducted, the transition to hydrogen based energy systems is still in its relative infancy.

Key themes that were explored during both sessions included: 

  • Pilot schemes: What has worked? What lessons have been learned?
  • Are there issues with public perception?
  • Who finances the transition?
  • Can hydrogen be used within existing infrastructures?
  • Challenges of large-scale storage to meet demands.

The event was split into two sessions:

1. The morning technical session - 09:00 - 12:30 (online) This session brought together a series of experts in the field to present and discuss key themes relating to hydrogen and the energy transition.  

2. The afternoon public session - 13:30 - 17:00 (Senate Room (UofG); option to watch live broadcast online) This session brought together experts and the general public to discuss the role of hydrogen, its uses, how we meet fluctuating energy demands with subsurface storage solutions, and how well hydrogen can be used within existing infrastructures.



Morning Technical Session (online)

09:00 - 09:05: Introduction (Glen Burridge, Amanda Owen and Florence Bullough)

09:05 - 10:35: Panel - Carbon Sequestered H2 and H2 Storage

On this panel there were a series of experts who presented and discussed themes relating to large scale subsurface storage of hydrogen. They spoke about existing schemes such as from the Acorn Grangemouth project, discussed emerging areas relating to hydrogen and wind power as well as public perception on hydrogen and its uses. 

  • Katriona Edlmann (University of Edinburgh) 
  • Angus McCoss (dCarbonX) 
  • Christina Demski (Cardiff University)

10:35 - 10.50: Break

10:50 - 12:20: Panel - Natural Hydrogen

On this panel they gave an overview of the process that generates hydrogen in subsurface; of the countries that are working on the evaluation of this new resource; and heard from companies, large and small, that are now active in this new business.

• 10:50 Isabelle Moretti (University Pau; panel chair): Why and where H2 is generated in subsurface.
• 11:10 Emanuelle Frery (CSIRO): Australia’s hydrogen ‘gold rush’.
• 11:30 Felipe Gonzalez (Ecopetrol & Atlas Research Group): How a country as Colombia, rich in HC and coal, is initiating the exploration of this new resource, the need of training.
• 11:45 Pierre Levin & Michael Hart (Beam Earth): Investing in natural hydrogen.
• 12:05 Nicolas Pelissier (45-8 Energy): What if natural hydrogen was the “game changer” of the energy transition?
• 12:20-12:30 Closing remarks.


Afternoon Public Facing Session (Senate Room (UofG) with option to watch live broadcast online) 

This session took place in-person at the University of Glasgow main campus. The event brought experts and members of the public together.

13:30 – 13:35: Introduction

13:35 – 14:15: H2 and Subsurface Storage – Niklas Heinemann  (University of Edinburgh)

14:15 - 14:55: Hydrogen and Existing Infrastructure - Gioia Falcone (University of Glasgow)

14:55 - 15:15: Break

15:15 - 15:55: Hydrogen: Public Perception and Energy Development - Leslie Mabon (Open University)

16:00 - 17:00: Panel Discussion & Audience Q&A


Image credit: Graphic image courtesy of The Geological Society. See full version on the cover of their Hydrogen Economy Briefing.