Today the world community is simultaneously experiencing three global revolutions in gas which can be found at different stages of their development: (i) US “Shale Revolution” with its global “domino effects” which consequences we have been already facing, (ii) global “LNG Revolution” – its global “domino effects” are in the making today, and (iii) global “Green Revolution” is ongoing and is still in its infancy, so its global domino effects are yet to be seen but can be already predicted since the key drivers of the “Green Revolution”, accepted by many, are well understood and have been proclaimed. Development of a low-emission economy/society (“Green Revolution”, decarbonization) has become today an irreversible trend and the most important feature of sustainable development. The point of no return has been crossed by signing and ratifying of 2015 Paris Agreement (COP-21) by most of the UN member-states. For Russia, decarbonization is a crucial task. But the climate challenges associated with GHG emissions, in particular CO2, are not as critical for Russia as they are for our main trade and economic partners, primarily the EU countries. Natural gas prevails in Russian energy mix and this country holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves which it would like to effectively monetize. This is why Russia’s urgent task is a transition to a natural resource-based innovative sustainable development path – as a new paradigm for its economic and energy development – combining decarbonization (low-emission development, incl. in gas industry) and the monetization of the country’s non-renewable energy resources, gas as the most abundant and cleanest among them. Such paradigm can be based on the development of hydrogen economy as an important component of Russian energy economy providing a significant contribution to decarbonization, primarily due to technical solutions for hydrogen production from natural gas without CO2 emissions, where Russia has already done the potentially competitive process-oriented groundwork. The author explains three different paths for hydrogen production (water electrolysis, methane steam reforming with CO2 emissions and CCS, and methane pyrolysis and similar technologies without CO2 emissions) and demonstrates their competitive advantages and disadvantages. He argues why the third path is the mutually beneficial one for both Russia and the EU since for the EU it helps to decrease low-emission development costs and for Russia to further monetize its vast gas resources within export-oriented decarbonization. He points out that current public debate in the EU is mostly limited to the first two hydrogen production paths only, while almost totally ignoring the third path, though he considers such policy as counterproductive. He argues for a “win-win” scenario for Russia and the EU in regard to hydrogen economy development based on, first and most, the third path (production of H2 from CH4 without CO2 emissions) and, finally, he presents his vision in which geographical areas of the EU key technologies of hydrogen production might find their most competitive application.
Energy Policy, Vol. 164
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