Letter to the Financial Times: Carbon equivalence, not colour prejudice

18th August 2021

News ArticlePress & MediaGlobalInnovationPolicy

Carbon equivalence, not colour prejudice 

This letter was originally written by Dr Angela Wilkinson to the Financial Time and published on 18th of August 2021

Nathalie Thomas (UK’s hydrogen energy push could be subsidised by the taxpayer, August 18) raises the polarising question about the colour of hydrogen: does blue or green offer a better solution as we seek to decarbonise our planet? 

The colours attributed to hydrogen were originally intended to indicate the feedstock source, and do not reflect carbon intensity, a far more useful measure when it comes to energy and climate. 

Recent data harvested from the World Energy Council’s community shows that there is no silver bullet – nor green or blue – for the UK or any other country’s energy transition. Worse still, colour prejudice can prematurely kill-off innovative energy solutions before their effectiveness can be tested. 

With the hydrogen economy in an embryonic stage, governments including the UK, face the classic chicken and egg conundrum – whether to focus on the demand-side (pull) or the supply-side (push) of the hydrogen equation. 

Managing the full societal costs of the energy transition will require an overhaul of national tax systems and investment into new energy infrastructure and existing (e.g. pipelines). Clean molecules, including hydrogen, as well as electrons will be part of any realistic energy transition across all geographies. 

Pervasive colour ideologies risk distracting us from the goal of ensuring that everyone has access to affordable, clean and reliable energy. 

Angela Wilkinson 

Secretary General and CEO

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