What is the Hydrogen Economy?

Many leaders have varying opinions on what exactly the hydrogen Economy is.  The hydrogen Economy, in its simplest form, is the mission and vision people have to see the world run off of hydrogen-fueled electricity and energy.  This dream is not based upon using high-carbon methods of production.  Low-carbon emissions are what these dreamers hope for.  Hydrogen, an element that is not naturally generated and found on this earth, is something that takes natural gas to create it.  Once hydrogen is liquefied or compressed, hydrogen can be used to create stores of energy.  Some believe that hydrogen is more of an intermediary between the user and natural gas, which has high-carbon emissions.  Regardless of what side of the wire you stand on, one thing we do know is that hydrogen is of such great interest to people nowadays because it’s only “emission” is water.  That is it.  Now do you see why hydrogen is still on the table?

Automobiles, for example, would probably have the greatest benefit from using hydrogen as energy, because it could use something called a “fuel cell” to convert the energy into electricity.  According to The Guardian:

“At the moment, hydrogen is most commonly produced from natural gas. In this situation, a typical fuel cell car generates 70–80g CO2 for each kilometre driven – similar to a modern gasoline hybrid or to a battery electric vehicle charged with today’s UK grid electricity. These emissions can be reduced towards zero if the hydrogen is produced using low-carbon electricity sources such as renewables, nuclear or CCS to electrolyse water. The downside is that in this situation only around half as much electricity comes out of the fuel cell as was put in to produce the hydrogen in the first place. The rest is lost as heat.

“Partly for this reason, and partly due to concerns over the commercial readiness of hydrogen fuel cell cars, battery-based electric cars have received more attention in recent years than hydrogen cars. However, hydrogen vehicles retain a number of important advantages: they can be rapidly refuelled in just a couple of minutes and have a range of many hundreds of kilometres. So the best technology depends on the final cost, carbon mitigation potential, and consumer needs in each case.”

Do you think it would take more energy to have only a hydrogen-run fuel economy? What are your thoughts on hydrogen being used as fuel? Tweet me @JohnSlifko to continue the discussion!