In a 2012 film documentary entitled The Grand Energy Transition (GET) on which I served as a producer, the transition, which included oil and gas renewables, led to the future of a hydrogen economy. Since then, hydrogen has become even more of a 21st century energy option.
Hydrogen has three basic benefits. The use of hydrogen greatly reduces pollution. When hydrogen is combined with oxygen in a fuel cell, energy in the form of electricity is produced. This electricity can be used to power vehicles, or as a heat source, or applied to other uses. Hydrogen can be produced locally from numerous sources. It can be produced either centrally, and then distributed, or on-site where it will be used. Hydrogen gas can be produced from methane (natural gas), gasoline, biomass, coal or water. If hydrogen is produced from water, we have a sustainable production system. Electrolysis is the method of separating water into hydrogen and oxygen. Renewable energy can be used to power electrolyzers to produce the hydrogen from water. Some of the renewable sources used to power electrolyzers are wind, hydro, solar and tidal energy.
An article in Spectra, I believe, best describes the “colors” of hydrogen. “Gray hydrogen is made using fossil fuels like oil and coal, which emit CO2 into the air as they combust. The blue variety is made in the same way, but carbon capture technologies prevent CO2 being released, enabling the captured carbon to be safely stored deep underground or utilized in industrial processes. As its name suggests, green hydrogen is the cleanest variety, producing zero carbon emissions. It is produced using electrolysis powered by renewable energy, like offshore wind, to produce a clean and sustainable fuel.”
Hydrogen pros: it burns quickly, can be quickly refueled, is the most abundant element on the planet, and it is twice as efficient as gasoline. The cons of hydrogen include: a large quantity of energy is required to produce hydrogen for energy, there is a limited hydrogen infrastructure, and few refueling stations for hydrogen-powered cars currently exist.
The June 2019 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), written at the request of the government of Japan under its G20 presidency, states that hydrogen, having “grown threefold since 1975,” would be a significant form of energy in the 21st century.
In the article, “At the Dawn of the Hydrogen Economy,” it states, “Interest in hydrogen is growing, with demand increasing rapidly. It is clear that the next significant transformation in the energy transition will be based on the hydrogen economy.”
In my book, America Needs America’s Energy: Creating Together the People’s Energy Plan, I describe many forms of energy, which all include pros and cons, including that of hydrogen. As we work together for our energy future, hydrogen will continue to be an important factor.
America needs America’s energy! Future generations are depending on us to keep the American dream alive.