Nuclear hydrogen fuel production to need 400 reactors worldwide: reportJune 4, 2021
A new French report calculated the number of reactors needed to meet global H2 demand.
In order to use nuclear hydrogen fuel production to meet the global demand for the emission-free fuel, 400 1GW reactors would be required. This, according to a report the French parliamentary office recently published to evaluate scientific and tech choices.
Currently, 99 percent of hydrogen fuel production is powered by carbon-emitting fossil fuels.
The world is, therefore, seeking cleaner, low-carbon H2 production alternatives using electrolysis powered by renewable energy sources or reactors for nuclear hydrogen fuel. The French parliament’s OPECST stated: “The path towards low-carbon hydrogen from nuclear electricity would represent 400 new 1 GW nuclear reactors [on a global scale],” in its report.
This report added that taking a route like that one would be “chimerical,” as this is a time in which many countries, including France, “are reducing the share of nuclear power in their energy mix.”
The OPECST data showed that in order to use electrolysis to produce the H2, France would have to use “the equivalent of four nuclear power stations dedicated solely to the production of electricity.”
Nuclear hydrogen production was being studied as France is falling behind the EU targets.
“Hydrogen production represents 2% of French anthropogenic CO2 production,” said Vice President of OPECST Gérard Longuet, who said that conventional H2 production was “unbearable”.
France has already widely missed its 2020 renewable energy goals. That situation will only worsen if considerable action isn’t taken, as the European Union is expected to raise its 2030 renewable energy targets very soon. Without changes to its strategy, France will face notable problems in trying to meet the new targets.
Longuet and mathematician Cédric Villani, the French Ecology Democracy Solidarity MP, have stated that without the use of nuclear hydrogen fuel production, France will not be able to produce the H2 it requires while still slashing its greenhouse gas emissions in the process. That said, they have both expressed that France will need to supplement the use of nuclear energy with that of other electricity production sources, referring to renewable energy sources in particular.