World's Biggest 'White Hydrogen' Reserve Discovered in France

    Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • Scientists — attempting to find low levels of methane and hydrogen gas in the subsoil of the Lorraine mining basin — have discovered "white hydrogen," a fuel that could potentially intensify the efforts to address the climate crisis.

    • A team of researchers from France's National Centre of Scientific Research and the University of Lorraine have found unexpectedly high levels of white hydrogen beneath Lorraine, which is a former coal-mining district in southeastern France.


    The Spin

    Narrative A

    This discovery of white hydrogen is like the holy grail of renewable energy sources. Hydrogen production is a highly energy-intensive process that frequently uses fossil fuels. While its sibling "green hydrogen" is made from renewable energy, its production remains small-scale and expensive. Finding large amounts of white hydrogen would open up previously unexplored renewable energy sources that could supercharge the effort to address the climate crisis.

    Narrative B

    White hydrogen isn't the miracle cure for a clean energy economy. There's a long way to go before the deposit in Lorraine can be extracted, as scientists must first confirm its size and extent by drilling more boreholes and drilling deeper. There are major challenges in terms of feasibility, logistics, and cost-effectiveness — any silver bullet for solving the complex climate crisis must be taken with skepticism.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 2% chance that renewable energy will contribute 25% or less to global electricity production in 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.


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