Shell’s fossil hydrogen plant, Quest, in Canada has been found to emit more climate-wrecking gases than it captures, according to recent research by watchdog group Global Witness.

Quest is a carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility, near Edmonton, Alberta, which Shell operates on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project.

“In just a few years, hydrogen has shot into mainstream conversations about tackling the climate crisis. It is now one of the most hotly discussed energy topics, and a very particular form of hydrogen known as fossil hydrogen, or ‘blue hydrogen’, is being pushed by the fossil fuel industry for government backing,” Global Witness said.

Although Shell claims it is climate friendly and can help with efforts to decarbonize the global energy system, the watchdog group accused the company of using “carbon capture technology to trap and store emissions.”

The data on Shell’s website shows that Quest has so far captured and stored over 5 million tonnes of CO2, however, Global Witness claims that the facility itself has emitted 7.5 million tonnes of climate polluting gases over the same period.

Global Witness recalled that Shell portrays the project as an example of “how it is tackling global heating, claiming that the project demonstrates that carbon capture systems are ‘safe and effective‘ and a ‘thriving example’ of how this technology can significantly reduce carbon emissions.”

Just 48% of the plant’s carbon emissions are captured, the study found, falling short of the 90% carbon capture rate promised by the industry for fossil hydrogen projects.

Global Witness further explained that this rate drops to only 39% when other greenhouse gas emissions from Shell’s project are included.

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