Throughout the past century, there have been a number of attempts to launch hydrogen-powered energy infrastructure that were obstructed by economic and technological factors.
There was the network of hydrogen generating windmills proposed by J.B.S. Haldane in 1923, the solar-hydrogen-fueled economy suggested by John Bockris in 1970, and the hydrogen fuel cell-powered concept put forward by Jeremy Rifkin in 2002. But the market was not yet ready, according to experts.
Today, however, a number of market indicators point to the fact that perhaps hydrogen’s moment of glory has arrived.
Natural gas distributors in the UK recently announced plans to convert the nation’s residential gas system to a hydrogen delivery system. Meanwhile, Japan has invested $348 million in hydrogen refueling stations and will share its vision for a hydrogen-powered world at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. Germany’s hydrogen-powered trains, Switzerland’s hydrogen-powered trucks, and South Korea’s fuel-cell buses and hydrogen storage systems indicate that the fuel and its supporting technologies are prepared for widespread adoption.
Contributing to the hydrogen market’s maturity are more favorable economics, the urgent need to reduce greenhouse emissions, and improved safety and storage methods, according to experts. Going forward, the market may be further propelled by the fact that electricity from renewable sources can be used for electrolysis, the process of splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen, and the production of “green hydrogen.”
Hydrogen is also being found increasingly useful for supporting the resiliency and stability of the electrical grid as an effective tool for peak shaving, in which excess electricity is used to generate hydrogen for immediate use in transportation infrastructure or stored for later use, and with fuel cells providing backup power at substations.
What are your impressions? Is hydrogen poised for market growth?