How Germany Replaced Russian Gas, on the Way to Green Hydrogen

November 26, 2022

Below, Michael Liebrich on Twitter with a thread on the practical realities of shipping hydrogen.

Michael Leibrich on Twitter:

Shipping liquid hydrogen is not going to be a thing. To understand why, you need to understand that hydrogen is basically liquid, -253C escapey, explodey expanded polystyrene.

 What this means is that any comparison with LNG is, ahem, bollox. We cracked LNG shipping, but it’s the most expensive gas on the market. And shipping the same BTUs as liquid hydrogen would require 3-4 times as many ships. Because of physics, not lack of learning, scale, etc. 

Liquifying hydrogen is also a complete bear. It currently consumes 35% to 45% of the Lower Heating Value of the input. If you don’t know about LHV and HHV, or about ortho-para isomer conversion, please read more and tweet less about liquid hydrogen!

 Then there’s the fun stuff. Hydrogen, which is liquid at -253C and much less dense than LNG, is likely to have up to 9x more boil-off (ie loss during transit, of which only part fuels the ship) and 2x more “sloshing”, which is dangerous. 

Can liquid hydrogen re-use infrastructure created for LNG? Power supply and docks, sure; 70% of pipelines may be re-purposed. But not the liquefaction and gasification plants, compressors, storage tanks, etc. Vital to listen to independent experts! 

OK, are we done with the absurd notion of transporting liquid hydrogen? In fact, LH2 will have no role anywhere in energy and transport. The only way to transport hydrogen economically is by pipeline. Or of course as ammonia, or in metal hydride or liquid organic carriers. 


9 Responses to “How Germany Replaced Russian Gas, on the Way to Green Hydrogen”

  1. I hope people read past the video.

  2. The link goes to the YouTube video. Here’s the link to Liebreich’s Twitter thread:

  3. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    Despite hydrogen being the flavor and savior every decade or so, until it crashes under reality, I still believe it has some potential. Present day hype is extreme. The coal gas used, when I was young, comprised Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide. Dangerous crap. Happily stored at low pressure in giant gasometers, produced when power is in excess, and kept til needed. May even be economical.

  4. gmrmt Says:

    Hydrogen filled blimps in a floating string towed behind a ship?

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Hydrogen filled blimps in a floating string towed behind a ship?

      Interesting solution.

      Any explosion mid-flight would drop water and bits of frame into the sea.

  5. J4Zonian Says:


    1:09 “How else to get the kiln to 1200°C?”
    Odeillo Solar Furnace has been getting to >3300°C (6000°F) in seconds, since 1969.

    LNG terminals for €6 billion? The US could be completely electrified, renewablized for less. So could Germany, and then some.

    • John Oneill Says:

      Germany spent ~500 billion Euro till now, but today the output from their 70.5 GW of wind fell to below that from the surviving 3.8 GW of nuclear – which is why even the Greens in government have been forced to leave those running. The contribution from solar was even worse, at only 6% of the 62.5 GW of potential, and for only a few hours. Coal was the largest power source all day, and gas was easily second.
      If Germany had not shut its very efficient reactors, they would not need any gas for power now. If they’d spent that half trillion on new ones, they wouldn’t need any coal either. In France, after a decade of governments doing their best to hobble nuclear and follow the German model, even with half its reactors offline, power emissions are about a quarter those of Germany.
      As for hydrogen, it’s vital for stationary uses like fertiliser and CO2-free steel, but as an energy store or a widely available fuel, it’s rubbish, as Michael Liebreich points out. Methane isn’t really that good either. It’s been pushed as a cheap by-product of oil drilling, but most of the fracking companies in the US lost their shirts on it. The ‘bridge to renewables’ line is looking pretty threadbare now, as well – it’s going to be a long, long, bridge, and it leaks methane all the way.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      “…€6 billion? The US could be completely electrified, renewablized for less.

      Show your math.
      $6.35 billion is not a lot of money in 2022.

      Replacing natgas in my single house cost thousands of dollars in appliances (HVAC, water heater, stovetop), duct reconfiguration and labor.

      Learn what things cost.

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