I have been studying recently the hydrogen economy, and I’d like to share the insight I gained.
Taking a different look at energy, we should consider all forms of fuel as energy carriers and all forms of fuel production (whether mining, drilling, via nuclear reaction or solar/wind etc…) as primary energy sources.
Presently, most of our primary energy sources are non renewable, and most of our energy carriers deliver their energy while polluting the environment. What we want for tomorrow is renewable primary energy sources and non-polluting energy carriers, all at a consumer cost similar to the present.
Renewable primary energy sources are usually of a stationary nature – nuclear plants, wind turbines, solar farms or biogas plants. As long as we can directly produce electricity and transport it over wires to stationary consumers (such as households) we’re fine. However, much of the energy we consume is in a mobile setting – automotive and various devices. For these applications, as well as for isolated off-grid location, we need an easily transportable, non-polluting and renewable energy carrier. There is a broad consensus that Hydrogen can be such a carrier, provided we find ways to harness it.
Hydrogen (H2) can be cleanly produced from water with electricity generated by a renewable primary energy source, and when consumed it releases energy while producing clean water. In terms of energy content it is also very attractive: 1Kg of H2 contains the equivalent of 33kWh – compared to about 11kWh contained in the equivalent amount of Diesel fuel – and compared to 0.3kWh in 1Kg of a top battery.
I’ll expand on the practical aspects of hydrogen production, storage and transportation in a subsequent post.
In the meantime, I’m keen to learn about your view on the futur of energy.