Blog | 16th Jan, 2024

'Renewable gas' myths debunked: Why hydrogen and bio-methane can't save the gas network

With their massive profits on the line, the gas industry has been spreading myths about ‘green’ or ‘renewable' gas. Here's why their claims don’t stack up.

When the gas industry talks about ‘renewable’ gas, they are really talking about two different things … either hydrogen or biomethane. While these gases will be useful in some industries, like transport, they will never be affordable or practical for household use.

So why are are the owners of the gas network using MasterChef to peddle the myth that we can use these ‘renewable’ gases at home? Let’s dig deeper and find out …

The gas that is currently pumped into our homes is fossil-based methane sucked out from underneath our oceans and farmland. It’s a powerful greenhouse gas (over 80 times worse than carbon dioxide) and burning it releases toxic pollution into your home.

In Victoria, methane is responsible for 17% of our climate pollution, and it’s getting more expensive as supplies in the Bass Strait run out. 

Meanwhile modern electric appliances are cheaper to run and less polluting. So it’s no surprise that households and businesses (which represent 50% of gas consumption) are starting to ditch gas and go electric.

But with their profits under threat, the owners of the gas network are trying to convince you not to switch, they want you to believe we can simply use ‘renewable’ alternatives like biomethane or hydrogen in the future.

Sadly, this is the equivalent of primary school children who want to put coke in the bubblers … It’s a complete fantasy. Biomethane and hydrogen are (and will remain) too expensive for household use, and both suffer major technical barriers that make their use in the gas network unviable.

But of course the gas industry’s misleading advertising doesn’t tell you any of these details. So read on to find out exactly what the gas industry doesn’t want you to know …

Call on MasterChef to drop their partnership with the Gas INDUSTRY!


The gas industry has been repeatedly caught spreading misleading sustainability claims.

WHY HYDROGEN WONT save the gas network

Hydrogen is a gas that can be produced by splitting water molecules. This process is called electrolysis and can be powered by renewable energy. In many applications, such as fuel cells, using hydrogen only produces water and oxygen as byproducts.

So far so good. But unfortunately, the idea of using hydrogen to replace methane in our homes is not just unlikely, it’s a complete fantasy.

Here’s why …

It’s too expensive

Hydrogen is far too expensive for household use, and even under the most generous assumptions it will only become cost-competitive after 2045. Meanwhile electric alternatives are cheaper and less polluting to run right now. [1]

It still produces toxic indoor air pollution

Hydrogen is only clean when used in applications like fuel cells. When it is burnt, hydrogen produces even more toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) than methane. [2] These pollutants damage the lungs and increase the risk and severity of respiratory infections and asthma.

It’s a waste

A valuable resource like hydrogen should be used where there are no other alternatives – such as shipping and steel production. Even the Hydrogen Council acknowledges [3] that electrification is a better solution for uses such as home heating – which is where Victoria uses most of its gas.

It would require a huge overhaul of the gas network

Hydrogen is a smaller and more volatile molecule than methane, so it can leak more easily and increase the risk of explosions. It also needs to be transported at much higher pressures and reacts with steel, causing ‘embrittlement’.[4] All of this means blending large volumes of hydrogen into the gas network would require huge upgrades. And to reach 100% hydrogen we'd need a completely new transmission system connected to renewable energy zones. Households and businesses would pay for this through their bills and, perversely, the owners of the gas network would make larger profits – which is why they love the idea.

Existing gas appliances would have to be replaced anyway

Traditional gas appliances are not safe to use with hydrogen. A UK lab recently confirmed this by showing how hydrogen creates dangerous leaks in cooktops and water heaters. [5] This means gas companies would need to coordinate the replacement or alteration of every single appliance in an area before increasing the amount of hydrogen above 5% ... Householders and businesses would foot the bill for this, and any missed appliances could cause an explosion.

It's incredibly inefficient compared to home electrification

To use renewable hydrogen in the home, first you would have to generate the electricity, then use it for electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, then transport the hydrogen to the home, then convert it back into heat energy in your stove, heating or hot-water system. At every step in that process you lose a lot of energy.

So a 100% green hydrogen network would require eye-watering amount electricity (almost double what the whole state of Victoria uses now) and much of that would be wasted. It's far cheaper, easier and more efficient to simply use modern electric appliances in our homes.[6]

Another fun fact is that the hydrogen used in MasterChef wasn’t even green hydrogen. It was “grey” hydrogen produced from the same polluting methane they are pretending to replace, and it was trucked to Victoria all the way from Western Australia!

Learn more about why hydrogen is not a viable alternative for the gas network in these fantastic articles by Forbes and RenewEconomy.

WHY BIO-METHANE wont save the gas network

Unlike our existing gas supply which is sucked out of the ocean floor and fracked from underneath farmland, bio-methane is produced by placing organic materials (like agricultural waste) in large ‘digester’ facilities where it is broken down by bacteria.

Considered on its own, bio-methane production is a renewable process. But the idea that we could use this at a large scale in the existing gas network suffers from three fatal flaws …

We couldn’t produce anywhere near enough

Most credible estimates say biomethane could only supply a tiny fraction (less than 10%) of our existing gas needs. [7] And like hydrogen, this valuable resource should be reserved for industry applications where electrification is not an option.

It’s too expensive

Bio-methane is relatively expensive to produce. In Europe, where there is a much larger biomethane industry, the cost is around two to three times higher than Victoria’s current wholesale gas price. [8]

So while biomethane will be useful solution for some industries where it is difficult to electrify, the idea we can use it to supply our existing household gas network is simply not credible.

In summary

Using ‘renewable’ gas to replace traditional methane in the gas network is not practical now, and it won’t be in the future.

But this doesn’t stop the gas industry. Instead, they shamelessly use online advertising and manipulate cultural icons like MasterChef to peddle myths about the possibility of using hydrogen and bio-methane in their networks. On the surface it might look like they care, but their only motivation is preserving the value of their pipeline assets and delaying the growing movement towards electrification.

The real solution to cutting pollution, protecting our health and lowering bills is to switch to clean, efficient electric appliances.

The big challenge for electrification is the upfront cost of the appliances – which not everyone can afford. That’s why we’re pushing for solutions that will make it easy and affordable for everyone to start the switch. Learn more and get involved here >>

Have more questions about gas and electrification?


  1., p.11.
  4. The gas industry claims, based on a study of a single section of their local distribution network, that their pipelines could be upgraded over time to carry 100% hydrogen. While that would still cost hundreds of millions (possibly billions) of dollars, the huge unknown is the impact of 100% hydrogen on the larger-scale transmission network. The costs of upgrading this network has not even been modelled and is a significant challenge because of the much higher pressured required in the transmission of hydrogen compared to methane gas. Read more here
  6. For example, it would take five times the amount of electricity to heat a home with renewable hydrogen when compared with an electric heat pump. And current modelling shows that a 100% green hydrogen network would require a ridiculous 70,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy to make the hydrogen. That’s nearly double the electricity consumption of the entire state of Victoria in FY 2022-23 (data here)., p10.
  7. Households and businesses across the east coast currently use about 580 petajoules of methane gas each year. But, given the competing needs for biomethane in other sectors, it’s likely that only 50 petajoules (or less) would be available for use in the gas network., p18.
  8. For biomethane to be cost-effective it needs waste streams that are large, centrally contained, and located near existing gas pipelines. According to Infrastructure Victoria, the cost of biomethane could range from around $7 to a whopping $50 per gigajoule, p.120.