Discovery of hydrogen reserves underground in France sparks optimism for the potential of clean energy.
Hydrogen has been hailed as an exceptional source of fuel that does not emit greenhouse gases during use, making it a potential substitute for fossil fuels. However, there is a significant obstacle to this concept as the production of hydrogen primarily relies on fossil fuels. Therefore, producing clean hydrogen through water splitting requires renewable sources of electricity, which can be costly and energy-intensive.
Not as widely recognized are the presence of natural hydrogen reserves found beneath the Earth’s surface. Researchers from the University of Lorraine were initially looking for methane in the northeastern region of France, but instead found a significant reserve of natural hydrogen over 1,000 meters below ground. This hydrogen is formed through a chemical reaction between groundwater and minerals high in iron, causing the water to split into hydrogen. It is believed that this process can continue indefinitely, continuously producing hydrogen.
Previous discoveries of natural hydrogen deposits have been made, with one small well already established in western Mali. It is believed that there are larger deposits in other regions, including the US, Australia, and certain European countries. However, a recent discovery in France may be the largest naturally occurring deposit of hydrogen ever found, potentially containing 250 million tonnes, which could fulfill global demand for over two years. The main hurdle now is figuring out how to transport the gas to areas where it is needed.