The AGW Hydrogen Pipe Dream

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Writing at Manhattan Contrarian, Francis Menton considers in some detail hydrogen as a fuel -- an old, impractical idea repeatedly touted as a new breakthrough by climate catastrophists and the cowards who enable them.

As an example of that last, he quotes from the archives of President George W. Bush:

What a limited view! (Image by the American Public Power Association, via Unsplash, license.)
In his 2003 State of the Union Address, President Bush launched his Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to work in partnership with the private sector to accelerate the research and development required for a hydrogen economy. The President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative and the FreedomCAR Partnership are providing nearly $1.72 billion to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells, hydrogen infrastructure technologies, and advanced automobile technologies. The President's Initiative will enable the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles in the 2020 timeframe. [bold added]
Anyone unfazed by the lack of such cars on the road -- and still thinks that they and boiling oceans are just around the corner -- can leave now.

The above comes after a somewhat detailed consideration of the enormous cost of battery backup for a solar/wind-powered grid. Fenton's subsequent analysis of the feasibility of hydrogen raises the following issues (in bold), followed by my highlight or summary (in italics):
  • Cost of "green" hydrogen versus natural gas. -- Even after recent dramatic price increases, hydrogen is 3-5 times more expensive.
  • How much overbuild of sun/wind generation capacity would be required to produce the "green" hydrogen? -- "... Given a typical 20% solar capacity factor, that would require about 2.6 GW of solar nameplate capacity dedicated to generating the hydrogen to fuel [a] 288 MW generator overnight."
  • Making enough "green" hydrogen to power the country means electrolyzing the ocean. -- This generates toxic chlorine gas, and the cost of doing this is a "wild card."
  • Hydrogen is much less energy dense than gasoline by volume. -- It's one quarter as dense as a liquid and must be kept at -253°C, for starters.
  • Hydrogen makes steel pipelines more brittle. -- This can cause leaks and explosions.
The whole post, like others from the same blog, contains valuable information and analysis that can complement the bigger picture, pro-fossil fuel arguments of energy advocate Alex Epstein.

-- CAV

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