Why Hydrogen won't solve our energy problems
Thursday, 13 March 2003 08:08
On January 30, 2003, President Bush announced a US $1.7 billion FreedomCAR and Fuel Initiative that by 2020 would, "reverse America's growing dependence on foreign oil by developing the technology needed for commercially viable hydrogen-powered fuel cells - a way to power cars, trucks, homes and businesses that produces no pollution and no greenhouse gases."
Wrong. The hydrogen fuel program does not reverse the U.S.'s dependence on foreign oil. It does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nor does it reduce pollution. Why?
First, the primary sources of today's hydrogen are fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) and as by-products from petrochemical processes. In other words, fuel cell companies are getting their hydrogen from the oil and gas industry. More oil and gas will be needed in order for hydrogen to be stripped out of them.
Secondly, stripping hydrogen out of water is energy intensive. Massive amounts of new coal-fired and nuclear electricity will be required to separate hydrogen from water. That means more oil and gas and coal will be needed, not less, to achieve President Bush's clean hydrogen fuel goal.
So, while no pollution is generated in the urban areas by the cars burning hydrogen fuel, whole new rural areas will be polluted from new coal-fired, oil and gas-fired, and nuclear-powered electricity plants. This sounds like a scenario right out of Vice President Dick Cheney's National Energy Policy that he negotiated secretly with ENRON and other oil, coal and gas companies. In fact, it will take almost as much BTU-energy to separate, prepare, and store hydrogen from water, as the actual energy that will be generated by the hydrogen fuel. (see the full text ...)
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