Distributed Energy

Hydrogen Rises

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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.

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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? DE_bug_web

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Comments

  1. “Today, however, a number of market indicators point to the fact that perhaps hydrogen’s moment of glory has arrived”. That statement along with the additional facts that you provided indicates that the market growth of hydrogen is already happening.

    As I have said in the past, we are in a crisis and are out of time and money. It is great to hear that other countries and the private sector are assertively developing the needed alternatives. Since we are in a global economy and not a U.S. economy, it is going to happen. Good news.

    1. Daniel,

      Not to be pessimistic but I am afraid that even if we are ready to grab the hydrogen technology to fuel our vehicles, the manipulators of the economy in the car and fossil fuel industries will hide these developments from us. Hopefully, the entrepreneurial courage of other nations will aid the breakthrough.

  2. An off the wall question: is it feasible to split grey water rather than fresh water? would this aid in both the delivery of energy and the cleansing of grey water?

  3. There are significant problems with hydrogen production. Most current supplies are developed from natural gas, with a byproduct of CO2. It might be a clean-air fuel, but still results in release of greenhouse gas.
    The up-and-coming process is to split water into O2 and H2, but that is done by using up a precious resource. Of course the water could be taken from oceans, but the process of creating pure H2O is itself very energy intensive.

  4. That is OK for now, the real energy source is CARBON. It is converted with a fuel cell at 98% efficiency and no pollutants, carbon has excess electrons. Natural gas, hydrocarbon and coal are the real energy sources and NOT via combustion. Enough with the internal combustion engine days (1847 Otto). Rudolph Diesel had the answer with coal dust over 100yrs ago but that was not to be let known. There is a catalyst that strips electrons from carbon in a fuel cell/mater converter. The current fuel cell is in its infancy, the future holds a converter the size of a shoe box to strip 100kw from hydrocarbon directly to electricity.

  5. The UK residential gas supply used to be coal-gas (Hydrogen & Carbon-monoxide…), so a switch to pure Hydrogen isn’t a big deal – the infrastructure is already there . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_gas

    Hydrogen is extremely hard to contain, systems built just for natural gas may not be adequate.

    Heating is a major sink of energy in the UK, so using Hydrogen directly is an effective/cheap use. I’m not sure that rolling out fuel-cells to homes is at all likely in the UK.

    It’s a better idea than running cars on Hydrogen since you don’t waste energy compressing the gas and handling it at high-pressure. Also, the UK has plenty of late-night wind-power which can be used for cracking water.

    The water probably needs to be clean, otherwise the electrolysis could be impaired, but there is plenty of rain in the UK.

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