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Energy

Hydrogen is the most recent impractical green energy blind alley

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4 minute read

From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Ian Madsen

Climate Crisis alarmists tout yet another avenue by which renewable energy could replace reliable fossil fuel-sourced energy:  hydrogen, ‘H2’.  However, typical with alternative energy proposals, there are numerous problems with the widespread integration of this option in future energy production, distribution and consumption.

The first problem is producing H2. The current, and most cost-effective way, is from natural gas’s main component, methane.  Natural gas, while not demonized like oil or coal, is still reviled by Climate activists, since the common byproduct is carbon dioxide, thus requiring expensive sequestration.  An experimental carbon-removal process – pyrolysis, produces carbon nanotubes.

With methane out, the next hydrogen source is via electrolyzing water; using electricity to separate H2O into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen would either be recovered for commercial use or released into the atmosphere. However, hydrolysis is costly.

The equipment is expensive, and the energy required to produce the electricity is not cheap either – even if renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydro, are used. There are predictions that H2 produced this way could become cost-competitive with methane-derived H2 by 2030, but using methane is not costless.

Indeed, advocates argue that intermittent wind and solar output would become reliable – ‘smoothed’ – by using hydrogen, as a storage and supply-levelling medium.  The stored H2 would then generate electricity during dark or non-windy conditions. H2 has other uses, in smelting, or aluminumsteelcementglass and other high temperature industries.

Hydrogen seems feasible: it burns cleanly at a high temperature. However, that brings more issues.

The first problem is handling and transporting hydrogen.  H2 dangerously weakens most standard high strength steel alloys in existing natural gas gathering and distribution systems, pipelines, storage and tank farms, in a process called hydrogen embrittlement.  Hence, special alloys are needed.  These cannot cost-effectively be retroactively deployed in existing natural gas distribution systems and pipelines.  They would have to be entirely replaced, although these alloys are cheaper than legacy ones.

Hhas another problem.  To be stored, must either be expensively cooled and pressurized to liquify it; or, if still gaseous, use expensive high pressure vessels. If H2 is not highly pressurized, then the vessels could be much larger, but that would increase materials costs and require more costly land area.

A reminder: natural gas goes from wellhead to customers with minimal storage.  The goal of using renewables is to produce H2 for storage – and use during dark or calm periods – which could last days, as Texas and Germany discovered, disastrously.

Using Hin transportation is impractical.  H2 has low energy density, requiring, as noted, either highly-pressurized storage or expensive cooling, liquefaction and storage: unfeasible for motor vehicles.  There is presently no H2 fuel distribution system.  This would also have to be built, along with the aforesaid new pipelines.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are now invested in legacy natural gas pipelines, gathering and distribution systems.  Replacing them, or building a parallel system, would be profoundly expensive, for no real gain.

Hydrogen makes no sense now; it may never do so, as it is an expensive redundancy.  There are more details in a new Frontier Centre backgrounder “Why We Should be Skeptical of the Hydrogen Economy”.

Ian Madsen is the Senior Policy Analyst at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

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Economy

Trump’s Promise Of American Abundance, Fueled By ‘Liquid Gold’

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By JAMES P. PINKERTON

 

One of the brightest nuggets of policy in Donald Trump’s July 18 acceptance speech to the Republican convention in Milwaukee was his ode to “liquid gold.” That is, oil.

As part of his inflation-fighting plan, Trump offered a gleaming solution: increase energy production, thereby decreasing energy prices. “By slashing energy costs,” Trump declared, “we will in turn reduce the cost of transportation, manufacturing and all household goods.”

He continued: “We have more liquid gold under our feet than any other country by far. We are a nation that has the opportunity to make an absolute fortune with its energy.”

Indeed. According to the Institute for Energy Research (IER) technically recoverable oil resources in the U.S. total 2.136 trillion barrels. At the current price of around $80 a barrel, that’s some $171 trillion. And so, Trump concluded, “we will reduce our debt, $36 trillion.”

As former Alaska governor Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha.” In Palin’s Alaska, oil is so abundant, relative to the population, that everyone gets a check from the state. Last year, it was $1,312. For a family of four, that’s more than $5000. Our goal should be that every American gets such an energy dividend.

Moreover, the abundance of America’s carbon fuels is not limited to oil. According to IER, we have 3.391 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That’s worth $165 trillion.

To be sure, these staggering dollar totals can’t be counted directly against the national debt—or in support of some future tax cut. Yet every dollar of our energy assets would contribute to the economy, and if even 10  percent of the humongous total could be available to the public, we could, in fact, pay off the national debt.

Moreover, thanks to fracking and other enhanced recovery techniques, we keep finding more energy: Human ingenuity has upended old beliefs about energy shortages, ushering in an almost Moore’s Law-ish surge in production.

Indeed, there’s so much oil and gas (and coal) that an emerging school of thought holds that carbon fuels aren’t “fossil” at all, but rather, the product of earth’s vulcanism. The core of this earth, after all, is the same temperature as the surface of the sun. Perhaps all that heat is cooking something.

In any case, we keep finding more oil, and not just in the U.S.

So how, exactly, do we take advantage of this planetary cornucopia? As Palin said, as Trump said, and as the convention crowd chanted, “drill, baby, drill.”

Okay, but what about climate change? Most Republicans don’t worry too much about that, but if Democrats do, they should be reassured that we can capture the carbon and so take it out of the atmosphere. Trees and other green vegetation have been capturing carbon for eons; the element is, in fact, vital to their very existence. Similarly, the human body is 18 percent carbon. Yes, all of us ourselves are carbon sinks.

So we, being smart, can capture vastly more carbon — capturing it in everything from wood to cement, from plastics to nanotubes. These in turn can be landfill, construction materials — maybe even a space elevator.

We can, in fact, establish a a circular carbon economy: carbon fuels extracted, burned, and then recycled back into feedstocks. By this reckoning, carbon fuels are renewable. Such creative thinking can power all those energy-hungry data centers on which Big Tech and AI depend. So there’s the makings of a bipartisan “Grand Carbon Bargain,” uniting mostly blue-state tech with mostly red-state energy. More energy + more tech = more wealth for all.

In Milwaukee, Trump spoke of American “energy dominance,” and that’s great. But with all the energy we can produce and consume, we can speak of economic abundance — and that’s even greater.

James P. Pinkerton served in the White House domestic policy offices of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He is the author, most recently, of “The Secret of Directional Investing: Making Money Amidst the Red-Blue Rumble.”

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Alberta

Jordan Peterson interviews Alberta Premier Danielle Smith

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This episode was recorded on June 29th, 2024

Dr. Peterson’s extensive catalog is available now on DailyWire+: https://bit.ly/3KrWbS8

ALL LINKS: https://linktr.ee/drjordanbpeterson

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