Every day, it seems we read more about hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, most of which appear to be written purely to further confuse people who don’t really understand this in the first place. An excerpt from the article linked above: “Fuel-cell vehicles …. can operate on renewable hydrogen gas.” As the author must know, the concept of “renewable hydrogen gas” has no meaning at all.
Insofar as hydrogen exists only in trace amounts in the Earth’s atmosphere, it needs to be created by zapping water with electricity, splitting apart the oxygen and the hydrogen. Some of this energy is then collected when the two elements are re-introduced. The questions then become:
• What are the costs and efficiencies of this process? (The answers aren’t encouraging.) And more to the point,
• Where did the electricity necessary to drive this process come from in the first place? (Obviously, if it came from solar, wind, etc., that’s better than if it came from coal.)
• Add in the concept of retrofitting 230 million cars and trucks (in the U.S. alone – over one billion worldwide) with fuel-cells.
• Then consider the cost of building a brand new fuel-delivery infrastructure that serves the U.S., whose land-mass is 3.5 million square miles in the “lower 48,” in an era where we’re having trouble affording education, healthcare, and the repair of roads and bridges.
It’s preposterous. But don’t count on this asinine discussion going away, in favor of one that could possibly make a difference.
I don’t pretend to understand the forces that lie behind all this media attention, but I do know this: they have nothing whatsoever to do with a transition to sane and eco-friendly transportation.