Transition to Hydrogen Economy
Is this a solution or just another way of doing business as usual – Selling a different liquid at the gas stations?
The U.S. Goverment Plan – Intitated by President Bush in 2003
Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier (like electricity) made from diverse domestic resources such as renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal), nuclear energy, and fossil energy (combined with carbon capture/sequestration). Hydrogen in the long-term will simultaneously reduce dependence on foreign oil and emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants.In his 2003 State of the Union Address, President Bush announced the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, a $1.2 billion commitment over 5 years to accelerate hydrogen related research to overcome obstacles in taking hydrogen fuel cell vehicles from the laboratory to the showroom. Fuel cell vehicles operating on hydrogen are zero-emission vehicles.
The Energy Hydrogen Program is making progress towards the goal of a 2015 commercialization decision on hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles and the infrastructure to fuel them through an aggressive research program that accelerates the timeline for resolving technical and economic barriers. Energy’s Hydrogen Posture Plan, outlines the activities, milestones, and deliverables Energy plans to pursue to support America’s shift to a hydrogen-based transportation energy system. A positive decision will yield the beginning of mass market penetration in 2020. As transportation accounts for over two-thirds of the oil consumed daily, the Department of Energy’s Hydrogen Program is primarily focused on developing hydrogen technology for the transportation sector. The best near-term technology solution to reducing oil consumption and emissions is by making energy-efficient choices such as purchasing gasoline hybrid electric vehicles.
We have the right to make a well-informed decision about which fuel alternative and which vehicle best serves our needs. It is vital to thoughtfully weigh the costs and benefits of both hydrogen and electric powered vehicles and create an atmosphere of consumer choice rather than corporate dictatorship.
Cutting through all the misinformation and propaganda from proponents of internal combustion engines can be very difficult to do individually, but with research, technical and engineering experience, and the experiences of actual end-users, we can collect enough facts from vetted sources to make an informed choice.
Promoting an alternative combustible liquid is the cheapest option for the oil and auto companies to maintain vehicle and transportation fuel market share because the manufacturing and distribution network supports this. The U.S. government has dedicated significant taxpayer dollars toward development of the additional infrastructure to further support a hydrogen economy, under the auspices of FreedomCAR. We, as taxpayers, have already paid for many studies researching how to modify existing oil delivery infrastructure to fit hydrogen by 2015, what a “hydrogen economy” will look like, and propounding the safety of compressed hydrogen.Our government openly accepts that hydrogen will be the fuel of the future, calling it “A National Vision of the U.S. Hydrogen Economy” and “America’s clean energy choice… flexible, affordable, safe, domestically produced, used in all sectors of the economy and in all regions of the country.” The U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydrogen Program has produced videos, podcasts, and reports detailing the safety and usage of hydrogen, with no corresponding programs, videos, podcasts, or reports for electric energy as a fuel. Even the government’s website on electricity acknowledges hydrogen as their choice for the future of transportation:
“Energy’s Fossil Energy program is developing natural gas-powered fuel cells for future distributed generation applications. Fuel cells use hydrogen that can be extracted from natural gas or perhaps in the future from biomass or coal.”
So, it is important to know the specifics we need to make a judgment call on this fuel.
- Understanding of the characteristics of hydrogen (what is it made of, adequacy of supply).
- How is hydrogen produced (efficiency and the costs and benefits of it).
- How is hydrogen used as a fuel (efficiency and the costs and benefits of it)
- Safety of hydrogen fuel (personal and environmental).
The obvious question should be this: Why spend energy to produce hydrogen and then use it to produce electricity (i.e., in fuel cells) when electricity is widely available and accessible?
Does hydrogen give you “more bang for the buck?”
From the information presented by FreedomCAR members and the U.S. Department of Energy, the only big bang you can expect is that of the hydrogen fuel tank exploding from underneath your car if it is ruptured in an accident. Then again, since hydrogen is so combustible that you cannot use your cell phone in your car, perhaps the true value is in keeping drivers from driving while on the phone. This is no less ridiculous than asking taxpayers to fund the infrastructure, R&D, and other costs of an emerging technology that only profits the comparatively small group of people in the auto and oil industries.
Worse, we will be expected to pay more per mile traveled for the privilege of funding the technology while our market choices are made for us.
It seems grossly inefficient to use energy to produce hydrogen fuel, which then produces electricity to run a motor, instead of using energy to directly produce electricity to run motor. Perhaps a diagram will better demonstrate what place hydrogen fuel has in running a motor for a vehicle: