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The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy

A book by Darryl McMahon

Last updated 2022.11.15

We Have a Winner!!

Dateline: San Francisco CA - Thursday May 12, 2011 - The International Green Book Festival announced the results of its competition, and awarded The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy with Runner-up (second place) in the non-fiction category, coming in ahead of entries by many notable 'green' authors such as David Suzuki.

A Personal Energy Plan will save you money now,
and in the future as energy prices rise again

Econogics tips on how to save on expenses for tight economic times

The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy and the hydrogen economy in the news

Warning! If you are looking for "fair and balanced coverage" of the hydrogen economy story, you will not find it here.

The 'bright future of the hydrogen economy' is indeed a story, a fantasy spun by fossil energy interests and fueled with taxpayer money. If you want the coverage of the mirage, corporate (mainstream) media will fill your needs.

What I provide here are the facts, data and evidence that show the 'hydrogen economy' is a sham, 'green' hydrogen is an insignificant portion of an existing commercial and mature industrial market for hydrogen which is already worth billions of dollars annually. If the big players in that market which has existed for decades believed in their own PR, they would be funding the supposed research, development and building of infrastructure themselves to ensure their own future profits. The fact that those highly profitable multi-national corporations continue to rely on taxpayer funding to keep the charade going should be evidence enough that even they recognize the fallacy of the PR hydrogen hype machine.

With that in mind, I present some material which presents the flip side of the propaganda stories, starting from late 2021 (after my update presentation), to more recent times. I hope you find the counterpoint to media spin to be helpful.

If you need more than you find here to avoid making a costly mistake on your energy system future, contact me for my consulting rates.

Hydrogen Hype Newsroll

Jump to: 2021 | 2022 | 2023 | 2024 |
For content before July 2021, read the book or view my PowerPoint presentation from March 2021, or for the best result, do both.

July 2021

It's a long time since I revisited my book or this part of the website. It was always my intention that the book was strong enough, backed copiously with solid research citations, that it would would stand on its own. In the past year, I have seen a resurgence in the hydrogen hype, unaccompanied by any substantive advances in the technology. Other than a 'hail mary' by the nuclear and fossil fuel industries (notably fracked natural gas) to soak up more taxpayer money to greenwash their dismal businesses, I don't understand the play. The technology is substantially the same as it was 150 years ago, with incremental improvements. But the fundamentals of the laws of thermodynamics and economics have not changed.

I have also had multiple requests to update and republish the book. I recently went through the book again, and it has held up remarkably well over 15 years. I will happily update the book if someone wants to pay for my time to do so. Otherwise, not interested. It's still a solid read, educational and occasionally entertaining as is.

I was asked to do an update presentation to a group of which I am a member starting a year ago. I relented this past spring, but have not published the slide deck until now (autumn 2021), because I did not have the time to deal with the flame wars that would ensue. I HAVE been here before.

Anyway, with winter approaching, I may have a bit more time for this, as COVID-19 seems to continue pushing off work on my other projects to infinity. Here's the slide deck, and possibly in future some additional articles which shine the reality light on the hydrogen hype. (Intermittent and as time permits)

The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy - Update 15 years on (March, 2021) (PowerPoint PPSX file)

July 26, 2021 How green is blue hydrogen? (

TL;DR "This best-case scenario for producing blue hydrogen, using renewable electricity instead of natural gas to power the processes, suggests to us that there really is no role for blue hydrogen in a carbon- free future. Greenhouse gas emissions remain high, and there would also be a substantial consumption of renewable electricity, which represents an opportunity cost. We believe the renewable electricity could be better used by society in other ways, replacing the use of fossil fuels."

October 2021

October 28, 2021 - This is a bit of a slog - about 3 hours - but it's an eye-opening reality check from the conference on Hydrogen (what's needed to make the hydgrogen economy real). TL;DR - it's not ready, funding is a huge problem because lenders see the technology as very risky, and while taking climate change seriously is necessary to give the hydrogen economy a push forward, the case for hydrogen as a climate change solution is shaky.

One speaker (starting at about the 44 minute mark) doesn't even address typical ground transportation as a niche for hydrogen fuel. For those with real skin in the game, it must be clear that plug-in battery and grid-connected electric drive has already captured that market. He speaks to heavy industry, long-haul transport, and maritime sectors as the key markets for hydrogen fuelling sometime after 2030.

This assumes that 'direct electrification' technology will remain stuck in circa 2020 commercial technology levels. That is a poor assumption as battery technology continues to improve dramatically year over year. Electric long-haul transport is being implemented now with Class-8 battery trucks and electrified highways. There are already battery electric ferries in commercial service. The potential for using biofuels is completely ignored. The world is already building infrastructure for liquified natural gas, not only for more compact transport, but also fueling ships. LNG may be a 'bridge fuel', but it will likely appear in precisely the time window to obliterate any niche for hydrogen fuel. LNG based on bio-methane may have a longer life than fossil methane depending on GHG-reduction incentives. Heavy industry will use whatever energy source is available and provides maximum financial advantage. Hydrogen will not be a winner on financials.

Industry promoters still can't bring themselves to give straight answers about GHG emissions, continually blurring the impacts of grey vs. blue vs. green hydrogen. A big problem for green hydrogen is that there simply isn't enough primary green energy available to power the electrolysis. (My addendum: because it takes 7 times as much energy to power the green hydrogen energy cycle as it does to use green primary energy to charge batteries and power homes, industry and transportation. See my March 2021 PowerPoint deck referenced above.)
[dead site:] Hydrogen - Is it rocket science? (Wikborg|Rein)

October 31st, 2021 - It is not only All Hallows Eve, but scarier still, it is also the eve of the Conference of the Parties 26th annual gathering of the apologists and deniers (COP 26) creating massive GHGs from jet travel for the self-congratulatory PR fest for the powers that be, and where true advocates and problem solvers are left outside the gates. I'll state now that the end-of-event statement will once again mouth platitudes about the scope of the problem, that we must act now, and then serve up zero hard commitments that any government or corporate entity will have to stand to account for, or suffer any penalties for simply continuing the charade as staged regularly since Rio. Happy to have saved you some time with this spoiler.

November 2021

November 3rd, 2021 - One of the purported future uses for (green) hydrogen is to inject it into existing natural gas pipelines for use as a heating fuel to reduce the carbon content of the delivered heating fuel. As I cover in my book, hydrogen is the smallest element, difficult to contain and highly reactive. That means, hydrogen gas - as would be injected into the pipeline infrastructure and into homes and businesses - is very hard to contain and really likes to catch fire or explode.

This white paper, "The H2 readiness of gas shut-off valves in gas meters" (Author: Stephan Brückner, Johnson Electric Smart Metering) contains thiis paragraph:

"To achieve an unlimited infeed of hydrogen in gas distribution networks, all the links in the supply chain will need to be H2 ready – from the entry point through to the exit point where the gas will be used. Intrinsic infrastructure components and materials will have to be investigated and tested for specific compatibility limits with hydrogen admixtures and pure hydrogen."
(paper can be downloaded here)

Think about that for a moment. Think of the enormity of what that implies. Every steel pipe in the NG distribution grid will have to be lined, sealed or replaced to avoid embrittlement. Every connection will have to be replaced. Every cut-off valve will have to be replaced. Where will all that "H2-ready" gear come from in a very short period? Where will the workforce come from? And it has to be a short period, because the distribution network can't distinguish between NG with H2 in it and NG without. Once the H2 starts to be injected, it will be present everywhere within minutes to days. There is no gradual phase-in option for H2 being fed into the distribution network; it's effectively a instantaneous cut-over with the first feed-in.

I think it's a safe bet that the hydrogen energy advocates are not posting that as a headline for their fantasy energy nirvana posters. Because it means they can't simply piggyback on the existing NG distribution infrastructure, they'll have to replace it.

But it begs a more fundamental question, What is the benefit of putting hydrogen into a natural gas distribution network? It's not GHG emissions reductions. In a world where there isn't enough renewable electricity to go around, we're not going to use 7 times as much to make 'green' hydrogen to mix with methane to make a slightly less potent GHG energy carrier. So, that's going to be blue or grey hydrogen, which means we stripped off the carbon molecules upstream somewhere, but they're still being created, just not at point of use. If the objective is heating from green sources, we'll be much better off using electricity to the point of use to power heat pumps for space and water heating. For industrial process heat, it will depend on the desired temperature as to the device used: heat-pump; resistance heating or electric plasma or electric blast furnaces. They're all off-the-shelf tech today, and don't require replacing an existing infrastructure to deploy.

June 2022

June 29, 2022 - One of the purported future uses for (green) hydrogen is to inject it into existing natural gas pipelines for use as a heating fuel to reduce the carbon content of the delivered heating fuel. As I cover in my book, hydrogen is the smallest element, difficult to contain and highly reactive. That means, hydrogen gas - as would be injected into the pipeline infrastructure and into homes and businesses - is very hard to contain and really likes to catch fire or explode.

Here is a report from the Physicians for Social Responsibility titled "Hydrogen Pipe Dreams: Why Burning Hydrogen in Buildings is Bad for Climate and Health. The report's summary begins with:
"Fossil fuel companies are advocating blending hydrogen with “natural” gas (methane) for cooking and space and water heating. They claim this will generate heat while lowering the carbon footprint of the methane gas system. In fact, it will not."

The 30-page report then sets out the logic and evidence used to reach their conclusion.

I liked this paragraph which addresses industry blurring of green hydrogen with fossil-fuel derived hydrogen.
"While burning green hydrogen (produced from renewable energy) is an inefficient, costly way to heat buildings, green hydrogen is very useful for decarbonizing hard-to-electrify industries. In fact, it is critical that we reserve the limited supply of green hydrogen for applications for which it is indispensable, such as fertilizer production. It also has potential for use in steel production, electric grid power-balancing, and long-distance transport, including trucking, shipping, and aviation. Using limited supplies of green hydrogen to inefficiently heat homes and businesses wastes this valuable resource."

August 2022

August 8, 2022 - When even the Mop&Pail, Canada's chief fossil fuels media cheerleader can understand, it speaks poorly of the Canadian federal government not being able to read their own briefing papers. This is the headline: "Repurposing LNG infrastructure for hydrogen exports is not realistic". It's well past time for the feds to stop pandering to the oil & gas industry and look at the evidence and statements from real experts rather than industry shills.

Let me keep it simple for you:
1) Hydrogen made from methane / natural gas ('blue' hydrogen) is not 'green' or clean. Period. Stop blurring the lines.
2) Hydrogen is MUCH harder to contain than natural gas; it is not economically feasible to "repurpose" NG pipelines to carry hydrogen.
3) Using 'green' electricity to make hydrogen is only 1/7th as efficient as putting the electricity in a battery in terms of energy cycle efficiency. (There isn't enough 'green' electricity available to support a hydrogen energy cycle on a mass scale.) Nor can we afford the additional waste heat from all the conversion losses (mulitple conversion processes) on a warming planet.
4) Government support for a hydrogen export industry is just another multi-billion dollar subsidy from taxpayers to the oil and gas industry.

August 11, 2022 - Natural gas does not make 'green' hydrogen, and the existing NG infrastructure is NOT suitable for carrying hydrogen
This article is a refreshing dose of reality on the Canadian government's hydrogen pipedream. (National Observer)
This quote from Paul Martin (Hydrogen Science Coalition) on the plan to repurpose natural gas infrastructue to carry hydrogen kind of sums up the dangerous fantasy the oil & gas industry and their government cheerleaders are spinning:
“It's so factually incorrect that it kind of drives you crazy to hear people say it.”
Blue hydrogen is not 'clean' in terms of climate change GHG emissions or environmental contamination. People in positions of authority have to stop saying it is.

September 2022

September 3, 2022 - NASA has been working with hydrogen in large quantities for a long time. So it should serve as a stark warning when even they have trouble with it in a high profile situation. Years after shuttle, NASA rediscovers the perils of liquid hydrogen (ArsTechica)
Despite the nascent hydrogen energy sector playing down the risks, they are not neglible, and must not be underestimated, let alone ignored, in the mad rush to chase the hydrogen mirage.

September 20, 2022 - The ‘hydrogen hyperbole epidemic’ comes to Nova Scotia
There are some sane voices quoted in this Halifax Examiner article. You should just read it.
I'm all in favour of NS developing more in-province renewable energy resources. However, at the current state of the 'green hydrogen' technology and the need for the world to shift away from burning fossil carbon, we can't afford to waste that green energy on making a lot of heat and a little hydrogen. Much better to use that renewable very-low-GHG energy to displace high-GHG energy production.

September 20, 2022 - Fuelling homes with hydrogen is a pretty lame idea with terrible financials. That's why the hydrogen industry (read oil and gas industry looking for a halo) is letting taxpayers foot the bill.
‘World-first’ hydrogen project raises questions about its role in fuelling future homes (The Guardian)
"On the northern shores of the Firth of Forth, royal blue waters lap against the weathered walls of Methil Docks. The quays were once a hub for coal exports but, since the late 1970s, haven’t dealt in the black stuff. Now, the town on Scotland’s east coast is flirting with another era in the energy industry – but it doesn’t appear to be going to plan." The take at the end of the article is interesting: that hydrogen house heating will be for low income areas, while affluent areas will get better technology which we already know works (heat pumps, solar panels, deep energy efficiency housing designs ...). Kind of like how we design poor neighbourhoods to be downwind of refineries and other emitting industries.

September 21, 2022 - Shouldn't the priority be displacing fossil fuel use in NS with green electricity?
Nova Scotia announces plan for hydrogen made from offshore wind, but confirms majority of energy will be sent elsewhere (National Observer)
I'm all for producing more green electricity and displacing fossil fuel use, such as powering heat pumps for heating houses instead of heating oil. That would reduce energy costs for residents, reduce GHG emissions, and reduce payments leaving the province to pay for foreign energy, thus strengthening the provincial economy (financial independence, energy indepence, resilience. When the domestic needs are fulfilled, definitely look to export green electricity to export markets. But, given the massive conversion losses associated with hydrogen production / storage / transport / use, this should really be the last option explored, especially with taxpayer money as we enter a recession.

December 2022

December 22, 2022 - "At least four studies published this year say hydrogen loses its environmental edge when it seeps into the atmosphere. Two scientists told Reuters that if 10% leaks during its production, transportation, storage or use, the benefits of using green hydrogen over fossil fuels would be completely wiped out."
So a couple of things about that statement. 1) hydrogen is about the leakiest gas on the planet, being the absolute smallest molecule we know. 2) hydrogen is noted for INTENTIONAL leakage as part of its storage technologies (venting hydrogen from cryogenic storage to help with cooling, and to reduce pressure build-up in compressed storage), measured in the range of 0.5% to 5% per day - so it won't take long to hit 10% just from INTENTIONAL leakage. 3) If it's not a massive win for efficiency and reducing GHG emissions (and it strikes out on both of those), why bother with the massive investments required to make it even remotely accessible on a large scale? Note, the energy industry doesn't want to risk that expenditure, which is why it looks to taxpayers to fund fueling stations, pipelines and research. Meanwhile, back in reality, wind and solar energy are available off-the-shelf today, as are more efficient batteries and thermal energy storage, and are already compatible with the electrical grid or heating systems. The hydrogen mirage's key strength is that it is a distraction from better solutions we should be implementing now. Has green hydrogen sprung a leak? (Reuters)

December 29, 2022 -Uh-oh. Somebody else read some facts, and is sticking another pin the the hyprogen bubble. And this version of the report on the recent studies also notes that 'green hydrogen' is a rare beast, and is not growing significantly. I'll add, we can't afford to waste green energy on the massive conversion losses involved in making, storing, transporting and using hydrrogen.
However, for those of you investing in the bubble, not to worry yet. The oil industry is still pushing governments to use taxpayer money to continue inflating the bubble as it is a key piece of their greenwashing / denial-deistraction-delay tactics to keep the world hooked on oil and blue/grey natural gas.
Green hydrogen: Fuel of the future has ‘big potential’ but a worrying blind spot, scientists warn (EuroNews)

January 2023

January 3, 2023 Somebody is revving up the hyprogen engine again, mostly because the oil and gas sector is taking another PR beating (price gouging, climate change, pipeline leaks, fugitive emissions are all in the news). However, some other folks are also waking up to the hydrogen PR mirage and starting to call it out.
Renault’s Hydrogen Fantasy Debunked (CleanTechnica)
The facts and calculations set out in this piece extend to hydrogen vehicles in general, not just Renault.

January 4, 2023 Uh-oh. Time for more reality checking on hyprogen. This is how the 'hydrogen economy' works; the oil industry forces governments to use taxpayer money to pay for everything because the promoters know it really won't work as an energy 'economy'. So taxpayers pick up the tab for the continued fantasy mirage, while funds are sucked away from better options (drop-in biofuels, electric vehicles, housing energy retrofits, heat pumps, installation of more renewable energy generation ...), which are already cost effective on a total cost of ownership basis and available off-the-shelf now.
If the oil and gas industry (the real 'hydrogen economy' today) really believed in hydrogen as a replacement fuel, they would be funding the roll-out of infrastructure and production facilities, not leaving it to taxpayers to pick up the never-ending tab.
India OKs $2 bln incentive plan for green hydrogen industry (Reuters)
If you think India is going to make 'green hydrogen', note a couple of things.
a) India has routine shortages of electricity nation-wide.
b) Over 80% of India's electricity is generated from 'thermal' sources (coal, oil, gas), which is black, grey and blue hydrogen, not green, and it's getting worse over time.

January 11, 2023 A 20-minute video on YouTube which does a quick review of the hydrogen energy cycle. Pretty concise, and likely worth a look if the topic of practicality and actual GHG impacts are of interest to you. If you have a hydrogen advocate in your circle who can't be bothered with the details (why it really isn't a good path forward), feel free to share.
Hydrogen Will Not Save Us. Here's Why.

January 25, 2023 Report: Japan's "hydrogen society" policy "has clearly been a complete failure" (New Atlas)

January 27, 2023 Why hydrogen cars are not the answer (The Car Expert)

February 2023

February 10, 2023 Don’t let hydrogen tax credit become a fossil fuel subsidy, academics, civil society groups tell Ottawa (National Observer)

February 15, 2023 'Chaos and massive disruptions' | World's largest hydrogen train fleet suffering teething problems in Germany (Hydrogeninsight)

February 22, 2023 Risk of ‘death spiral’ for Enbridge increases: rate hike application (National Observer)
Q: How is a multi-national conglomerate that can't afford to maintain its current natural gas pipeline infrastructure going to afford to put in an entire new hydrogen-safe network when there is no proven market for hydrogen as a fuel? A: They're not, so this will be just one more taxpayer subsidy doled out by complicit governments to the oil industry. Hydrogen is 99% made from fossil fuels, so it's just a proxy for coal, oil and natural gas. Despite the 'green hydrogen' hype, that's not going to change appreciably in the next decade. So, we can continue subsidizing the the fossil fuels sector, currently reaping record profits due to price-gouging consumers, or try something rational for a change. The Aspiration Toxicity hazard is Category 1: the most hazardous level.

March 2023

March 12, 2023 Green hydrogen: Inside global race to turn water into fuel (The Buffalo News)
Even the advocates have doubts. I hope that Andrew Forrest hs something more elegant in mind when mixing hydrogen and carbon dioxide than the Sabatier reaction, which essentially gives you methane and water. Methane is essentially natural gas, which takes us back to the issues of fossil fuels. Water is what was originally split (electrolysis) to make the hydrogen. Presumably he doesn't mean ammonia as a carrier, as that involved nitrogen, not carbon dioxide. Anyway, whatever his plan is for "it's just that simple", he doesn't reveal it in the article, or anywhere else on the web that I could find in 30 minutes of web searching. Fortescue Future Industries' own website on green hydrogen transportation does not mention anything about mixing with carbon dioxide, just the boring stuff we already know (compression, liquefaction, ammonia, syngas LOHCs and MCH). If you think there are issues with being around ammonia (and there are), you should read the materials safety data sheet - MSDS - on methylcyclohaxane. For something that will be moved by ocean-going tanker ship, this phrase might be troubling to some: "Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects".

We still have better options (lower environmental impacts, lower cost, lower conversion losses already available off-the-shelf.

March 19, 2023 Buckhaven: Trial fears funding loss if explosion tests published (The Herald Scotland)
Curious. This implies the explosion hazard for home heating with hydrogen is actually worse than previously published estimates - which were 4 times the number of fires and explosions as sticking with natural gas. Pity green methane and heat pumps aren't on the menu of choices for these villagers. But hydrogen hypesters need not worry, the governments 'round the world will keep on funding hydrogen at the bidding of the oil and gas industries' endless appetite for greenwashing. In this case, via Ofgem. Carry on.

April 2023

April 2, 2023 Switching to Hydrogen Fuel Could Cause Long-Term Climate Consequences.

April 2, 2023 Debunking “Why Hydrogen Cars Are Better Than Electric Cars”

This is an all-in disinfo piece. If you want to read it for yourself, it’s here.

But I can save you some time and exposure to weak research, opinion masquerading as fact, and mediocre writing. Below is a list of what the author perceives as the advantages of hydrogen cars over electrics. My response is founded on living on planet Earth in 2023 and having some grounding in reality.
1) I have real-word experience with electric vehicles, on-road and off-road, starting in 1979.
2) I am the author of the award-winning book, The Emperor’s New Hydrogen Economy.
3) I have driven one real hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, once. Performance was uninspiring, range was limited, and it was noisy inside due to the workings of the fuel cell plumbing. This was some years ago, and I’m sure the technology has improved since then.

Alleged Advantages of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car

Hydrogen Cars Never Need To Charge

I’m going to call this a semantic distinction without a difference. Hydrogen cars do need to refuel. A lot.

Hydrogen Cars Have Longer Driving Ranges

If you’re prepared to do the cherry-picking, you can make this case for a specific hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (HFCEV) vs. a specific battery electric vehicle (BEV), and the author did. He picked two of the lower-priced (thus ‘more popular’) BEVs, which have a lower cost because they have a smaller battery.

But, let’s compare the champions for both technologies and see how they stack up. One constraint I am placing on this competition. The vehicles actually have to be in production and available for sale in March 2023. That let’s out PR cars like the much-announced Hyperion XP-1. For the fuel-cell side, I’m choosing the 2023 Toyota Mirai, because it was actually produced and sold. Alleged range per manufacturer: 647 km. ( Real world, more like 415 km (261 miles) per full tank. ( From the BEV side, the Lucid Air Grand Touring is available (on a wait list) and boasts a manufacturer-claimed range of 750 km (469 miles) per charge, a full 100 km more than Toyota’s claim for the 2023 Mirai. ( Real-world claims are around 660 km (410 miles) ( at 120 km/h (75 mph), while we should note the EVs really strut their range when used in lower-speed urban driving – where over 80% of North American driving is done. The real takeaway here is that performance (acceleration, range, recharge speed) is more a function of cost (reflected in price) than fundamental technology. But in short, comparing real cars, BEVs have longer range than HFCEVs.

Hydrogen Cars Are More Efficient, Lighter, and Faster

Again, if you cherry-pick your gladiators, you can likely make this argument. In this case the author picks the unicorn Hyperion XP-1 PR car for their photo, but supplies no data. Yes, batteries are heavy. Yes, hydrogen is light. However, the armoured fuel tank required for safe use on roads and the fuel cell and it’s associated plumbing are not light.

For this discussion, I offer the reality provided by Honda from their halo car, the Clarity. Conveniently for me, the 2008-2014 Clarity provides 3 vehicles based on the same chassis: a plug-in hybrid; a battery EV; and, a fuel-cell version. Wikipedia provides some data on each. ( In that comparison, the FCX variant (fuel cell) weighs in at 1,875 kg, while the Clarity Electric is 50 kgs lighter at 1,825 kg. So, fuel cell vehicles are not necessarily lighter than BEVs.

If you start from a kWh of electricity to produce hydrogen to power an HFCEV or a kWh hour to charge a BEV, the BEV is massively more efficient in terms of distance travelled per unit of energy consumed.

For faster, I’m not going to limit the debate to available EVs, as maximum speed on a road-car may be regulated by the manufacturer without being documented, which interferes in the analysis. HCFEVs are definitely not faster than BEVs. The battery electric ‘Little Giant’ was officially recorded as travelling at 518 km/h (322 mph) at the Bonneville Salt Flats in September 2021. (

The fastest HFCEV to date is the Buckeye Bullet 2 at 493 km/h (308 mph) in August 2010. ( In summary, based on actual facts, HFCEVs are NOT more efficient, lighter nor faster than BEVs.

Hydrogen Could Replace Gasoline In Internal Combustion Engines

Not in an existing Internal Combustion engine. All the engines the author identifies are new designs, which would go into new cars. There is no drop-in solution here.

How Do Hydrogen Cars Work?

Posing this section as evidence that HFCEV cars are better than BEV cars baffles me, from starting with the image of a truck that doesn’t even seem to actually physically exist even as a prototype (per 2022 status report). The rest of the section describes how the fuel cell and hydrogen fuel make for the equivalent of a very complicated battery with moving parts. More complexity in a fuel storage system is not better.

Hydrogen Makes Better Electric Cars

Umm, no, no they don’t. It’s worth discussing a few things the author did not write about, which are relevant and important for anyone looking to get an HFCEV or BEV with the objective of driving it in the real world between 2023 and 2030.

Cold weather

Current fuel cell vehicles don’t operate well (or at all) in cold conditions, like below the temperature where water freezes. That makes them unsuitable for winter use or at high elevations in much of the world. According to U.S. government testing, the Toyota Mirai’s vehicle efficiency was below 20% at 0 degrees F (minus 18 C). (

Lack of refueling infrastructure

Much is being made of challenges BEV owners are having finding charging stations. Those stories ignore the fact that over 80% of BEV charging takes place at home, overnight. That option does not exist for a HFCEV driver. That is a really important point, and completely ignoring it, even in a puff-piece for hydrogen seems biased to me. I have been driving EVs for a long time, and I can assure you that I do not miss having to stop at a gas station to refuel when I can simply plug into a simple 120-volt electrical outlet to refuel my BEV. Yes, it works, I have been using this approach since before ‘charging stations’ were even a thing.

But suppose you really need to drive coast-to-coast in your BEV or HFCEV. In the BEV, this is possible, although refuellng stops may take 20-30 minutes at fast chargers (like all Tesla Superchargers). With the HFCEV, simply not possible. The refueling stations just don’t exist in Canada or the U.S. And the maps of HFCEV fueling stations are terrible. Here’s the U.S. government’s map of public hydrogen refueling stations. ( They’re the green dots on the map. A bit sparse. Over 5,000 km from the station in Vancouver to the next station going east in Quebec City. What was that range per hydrogen tankful? About 400 km, if you’re not starting by climbing the Rocky mountains – which you are. Also, call ahead to see if the station actually has any hydrogen today, and is operational, neither of which is to be taken for granted.

Price of hydrogen fuel

This one is a bit tricky to nail down because it depends on the pump price (which never seems to be shown online) and a couple of conversion losses, and how long the vehicle sits idle before the fuel is used, as compressed or liquefied hydrogen has daily storage losses. So, I’ll just offer up this November 2022 news story from Hydrogeninsight to give a sense of the relative fuel costs of HFCEV vs. BEV.
EXCLUSIVE | Fresh blow for hydrogen vehicles as average pump prices in California rise by a third to all-time high - Fuel-cell cars in world's second-largest market are now more than four times as expensive to run as home-charged electric vehicles (
That’s US$0.30 per mile. For comparison, my EV charges at home for about US$0.012 per mile (C$0.074 per kWh x 7 km/kWh = C$0.0102 per km = US$0.0075 per km = US$0.012 per mile) – about a factor of 27 difference, where electricity is massively less expensive.

Cost of refueling infrastructure

To date, virtually all hydrogen refueling infrastructure has been paid for by taxpayers. Neither the fossil-fuel sector nor automakers believe that hydrogen vehicles will be a thing, which is why neither is investing in the necessary infrastructure. We know the oil industry has just made record profits in 2022 and into 2023. We know the automakers have cash because vehicle prices and service costs have been astronomic during the COVID-19 pandemic period, and they make a lot of their money from financing (in effect, they’re banks). They have the money; they simply know paying for hydrogen infrastructure is a terrible investment because the vehicles are not coming to market. Contrast this with EV makers like Tesla and Nissan who installed EV charging points at their own expense. They know they’re going to be selling BEVs in the future.

April 3, 2023 Hydrogen for long-distance trucking makes no sense, says expert.
David Cebon is singing from my songbook here. The environmental reality and financials don't pencil out for green hydrogen as a transport fuel.

April 14, 2023 How Japan's big plans for a 'hydrogen society' fell flat.
Short version. Starting from a green energy source (so not oil, coal or natural gas), hydrogen for space heating and water heating loses to heat pumps, and possibly even simple resistance heating. For transportation, hydrogen loses out to battery propulsion in most applications, and in others to biofuels or electric-biofuel hybrids (e.g. in long-haul trains). On efficiency, on economics and on existing install base and head-start in infrastructure, hydrogen loses.

April 14, 2023 'Wrongful acts' | Leading hydrogen electrolyser maker Plug Power faces class-action lawsuit launched by five legal firms .

April 18, 2023 Australian miner to trial world’s first electric “triple” road train with swappable battery. Long-haul trucking with road-trains in Australia is exactly the application the 'green' hydrogen fan club proposes as no-brainer for hydrogen fuel cell trucks. And yet, when the first operator to really step up to non-fossil fuel trucking in that space had to decide which way to go, they chose battery-electric and not hydrogen.

April 25, 2023 New Hydrogen Research Reminds Us Humanity Just Can't Win With Fuel Alternatives.

May 2023

May 19, 2023 Shell 'received €150m of subsidies for green hydrogen project that was ineligible for support': report.
Nothing about the stampede to hydrogen as a faux-clean fuel makes sense, so why should Shell have to actually play by the rules to take more taxpayer money to continue the greenwashing charade? Answer: they didn't, and got the money. Not so much for green hydrogen, but for 'greening' their carbon dioxide and methane spewing OIL refinery. Congratulations Dutch taxpayers, you got hosed by Shell again.

June 2023

June 23, 2023 “Nothing can compete:” Finkel concedes battery electric beats hydrogen cars
But governments won't stop using taxpayer dollars to prop up the oil and gas industry greenwash charade.

July 2023

July 14, 2023 Hydrogen Is the Future—or a Complete Mirage
With an endless supply of taxpayer money to fund 'research' on implementing a 'green hydrogen' economy, the fossil fuel sector can continue the disinformation campaign indefinitely, and build infrastructure that will be instantly obsolete. Our species cannot afford wasted time and money, nor the climate change penalty of consuming scarce reneweable energy sources on the multiple conversions losses (waste heat) implicit in the 'green hydrogen' energy cycle. From the article:
"As this brief tour suggests, there is every reason to fear that tens of billions of dollars in subsidies, vast amounts of political capital, and precious time are being invested in “green” energy investments, the main attraction of which is that they minimize change and perpetuate as far as possible the existing patterns of the hydrocarbon energy system. This is not greenwashing in the simple sense of rebadging or mislabeling. If carried through, it is far more substantial than that. It will build ships and put pipes in the ground. It will consume huge amounts of desperately scarce green electricity. And this faces us with a dilemma."

July 24, 2023 Taxi Firm's Hydrogen Cell Experience Highlights Fuel's Pitfalls
If hydrogen fuelling for road vehicles can't make it in Japan now, it's not going to be viable anywhere. Japan has been a champion of the hydrogen energy economy for years, devoting massive subsidies, incentives and other government supports to developing infrastructure and funding vehicle R&D, notably at Toyota. Green hydrogen HAS to be massively more expensive than charging battery electric cars because of the number of energy conversion processes required in the hydrogen cycle which are not required to charge batteries. Further, the electric infrastructure is mostly in place, while hydrogen infrastructure for transportation fuel is still in the starting gates. Even if hydrogen was a viable solution, we can't build the fuel cells, vehicle stock and fuelling infrastructure by 2030.

And recently, Toyota has signalled a massive shift toward battery EVs as its future based on a new solid state battery it has developed. The question is, can they get to market in time to be a market leader?

August 2023

August 3, 2023 No more hydrogen trains | Rail company that launched world's first H2 line last year opts for all-electric future
So, Germany spent US$85 million with 2 hydrogen trains to prove my point about hydrogen as a transportation fuel. The technology can work. But the hydrogen energy cycle can't possilby compete economically or environmentally with advanced batteries driving the same electric drive system that the fuel cell did. Seems the LVNG's post-implementation study (ignoring the teething problems the ame model fuel cell train had in Frankfurt) found that the hydrogen trains would be much more expensive than battery trains to operate over a 30-year operating life, with the 'grey' hydrogen fuel presenting additonal challenges.

Compared to Canadian and U.S. taxpayers, LVNG got off cheap spending just $85 million to prove that hydrogen is not a viable way to get to zero-emissions ground transportation.

August 6, 2023 Resource requirements for the implementation of a global H2-powered aviation
Well, there goes reality again knocking off the fiction of hydrogen as a viable replacement for fossil fuels in the commercial aviation sector. If you think lithium is hard to come by for EV batteries, you're going to be gobsmacked by iridium and lanthanum. From the paper:
"It is found that the iridium demand for a global hydrogen economy could be critical as it would exceed not only the current annual production by a factor of 11 but also the current reserves about 1.7 times. The H2-powered aviation alone is not the main driver of iridium demand but could increase the limitations."

August 7, 2023 No, White Hydrogen Isn’t A Limitless Source Of Clean Fuel
So, here's the thing. To date, humans have never managed to extract pure hydrogen gas from the planet's crust. We have a lot of trouble getting methane (natural gas) out safely and efficiently after decades refining the technology, and hydrogen is a LOT trickier to manage, capture, store, transport and use. Also, it turns out that even before we try to actually drill the holes, we're learning that 'white' hydrogen is also likely not going to come out as pure hydrogen, and the supposed reserves are not particularly large. Which makes sense, because hydrogen wants to react with just about anything else to become not hydrogen (e.g., water, methane, ammonia ...).
But, in spite of the TL;DR above, do read the actual article. Enlightening while debunking.

August 9, 2023 Mallorca's 'pioneering' hydrogen plant out of action for over a year
Cummins early output of electrolyzers seems to less than a spectacular success. And electrolysis is the easy part of the 'green hydrogen' energy cycle.

August 14, 2023
We hear a lot about the cost of out-of-warranty battery-pack replacements for EVs, often in the range of US$5 to 10 thousand dollars. However, due to the limited number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles produced, and many of those being leased, we don't see a lot of real numbers on the cost of out-of-warranty costs to repair hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Now we have a real-world data point: US$113,000 for a replacement fuel cell for a Hyundai Tucson HFCEV (vehicle and batteries not included).

August 22, 2023 Hydrogen will ‘almost always’ lose out to battery-electric in German rail transport: train manufacturer
Some folks on the real transportation energy front-lines confirm what I have been saying for decades. You can make hydrogen work as a fuel. You just can't make it financially viable compared to mature true-zero-emissions technologies already on the price lists. In this case, battery-electric and battery-mains hybrid trains win out on initial cost, operating costs and reliability.

August 31, 2023 Beyond Hydrogen: A pragmatic approach to energy transition
Another hydrogen reality check. It isn't easy being green (hydrogen). Here's the takeaway lines from the article.
"Hydrogen should be used as a complement to electrification, not a substitute for it. Hydrogen should be prioritised for those applications where direct electrification is not possible or practical, such as heavy industry, long-distance transport and seasonal energy storage."

You'll be surprised when we show just how small those niches will be when businesses have to start paying the energy costs instead of taxpayers.

September 2023

September 5, 2023 Real-world figures | Hydrogen buses cost 2.3 times more to run per km than battery electric ones, says Italian study
Realistically, there are two real options for 'zero-emissions' heavy ground transportation: battery electric and hydrogen fuel cells. (Hydrogen combustion engines are not zero-emissions.) One is already in mass-production and displacing internal combustion because it has lower total lifetime cost of operations/ownership; that's battery electric. Hydrogen fuel cells remain far from being in mass production, don't have any significant refuelling infrastructure in place, and cost more to acquire, operate and maintain than current fossil fuel vehicles. Based on economics, which one do you think will win out? And in terms of environmental impact, battery electric is far superior to 'green' hydrogen when both drive systems start from electricity from renewables. Fortunately for the oil and gas industry, they don't have to pay for the hydrogen charade; politicians are more than willing to use taxpayer money for that.

September 8, 2023 Global land and water limits to electrolytic hydrogen production using wind and solar resources
If we really were to try to replace fossil fuels with green hydrogen on planet Earth, is there enough renewable energy resources to actually do it? Green hydrogen takes over 5 times as much energy as battery electric to do the same work when you look at the entire fuel cycles. This paper says most countries won't be able to do it.

September 8, 2023 Hydrogen 'won’t become a reality in private mobility', says VW chief technology officer
So, if hydrogen isn't the future for private mobility and can't compete for commercial ground transportation, where is the volume market for 'green hydrogen' fuel that will bring economies of scale against battery electric vehicles with comparable range and recharge times, but significantly lower initial, operating and maintenance costs?

September 15, 2023 Green hydrogen successfully produced from plastic waste (Interesting Engineering)
In my opinion, this is more exciting as plastic pollution scourge news than hydrogen fuel news. The ability to make use of mixed plastic waste could be something of a breakthrough as recycling programs really can't separate mixed plastics well, and this makes them unsuitable for conventional recycling. Cheap sources of hydrogen (notably from cracking fossil natural gas) are already available courtesy of fracking and taxpayer subsidies. 'Green' credentials for this hydrogen source will depend on where the input energy to drive the process comes from.
(If you are interested in the plastic waste angle, visit RESTCo's web pages on plastic pollution.)

September 18, 2023 ANALYSIS | It is now almost 14 times more expensive to drive a Toyota hydrogen car in California than a comparable Tesla EV ( (HydrogenInsight)
And fuel-grade hydrogen will likely become more expensive as the ratio of 'green' hydrogen to 'grey' hydrogen rises, which will be forced by increased concerns over GHG emissions driving climate change.

September 19, 2023 Hydrogen vehicles in Denmark left without fuel as all commercial refuelling stations shuttered (HydrogenInsight)
Everfuel, the hydrogen stations operator says they can't afford to continue subsidizing hydrogen ALONE, though they got over US$8,000,000 in taxpayer subsidies in 2022. According to the article, there are 147 hydrogen powered vehicles in Denmark (100 of them in a single taxi fleet andl less than 50 in private hands), making the 2022 subsidy alone costing taxpayers about US$54,000 per vehicle.

September 22, 2023 Global push for clean hydrogen foiled by costs and lack of support, report finds (The Guardian)
In 2003, U.S. President George W. Bush announced the U.S. government would provide massive support for the development and implementation of the hydrogen energy economy. 20 years later, after billions of dollars of taxpayer money spent on an industry that was already mature in 2003, we continue to see calls for more taxpayer money to support the apparently improverished oil and gas sector (despite record profits for many of those 20 intervening years) to continue trying to develop a viable technology path for something beyond trivial pilot projects and shrinking number of refuelling stations.

The reality is that even with a couple of miracles, the hydrogen energy system is too expensive and inefficient to ever compete with off-the-shelf hardware available today (battery EVs, heat pumps, wind turbines, photovoltaics, conventional energy storage, energy conservation measures ...)

If the profit-addicted oil and gas sector thought there was a real business model to be had in hydrogen energy, they would be building it with their own money to ensure they owned the system, and not whining to every source of taxpayer funds to continue their story of they're really trying to get to a clean energy regime.

If you want to read the report for yourself, it's available at the IEA's website.

October 2023

October 5, 2023 IKEA Follows In The Footsteps Of Organizations Abandoning Hydrogen For Energy (CleanTechnica)
I completely understand the frustration of those that have done the math on hydrogen as a fuel, and the tone in this article. Still, as the subtitle says, "it's remarkable that people keep making the mistake when it’s so obviously a mistake with tiny amounts of number crunching and the slightest awareness of battery energy density improvements". Still the allure of all that taxpayer money is just too tempting, I guess, and the hydrogen lobby is willing to accept anyone falling into the trap as good news to be trumpeted.

I'll also note that in our area - where we have real winters - IKEA has recently introduced a fleet of electric trucks for delivery to customers, despite Canada's unabated addiction to hydrogen hype and essentially no supporting infrastructure or dealership support. In short, EVs are real and hydrogen vehicles are curiosities, and a business should not be built on a taxpayer-funded greenwash mirage.

October 20, 2023 Is Green Hydrogen An Opportunity Or Distraction For The U.S.? (
Based on my years of research on the potential for hydrogen as a clean fuel, it is and will remain a distraction from real solutions, and a very expensive distraction for taxpayers as well as time lost getting to sustainable results. The hydrogen hubs blurbs only reinforce this likely undesirable outcome. If hydrogen is to have any chance at all at being a clean ('green') fuel, it must not be allowed to start with 'grey' or 'blue' hydrogen. The fantasy about CCUS being able to make 'blue' or 'grey' hydrogen a net-zero GHG fuel is very expensive snake oil. We have decades of experience now with Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), and it has been universally proved not to deliver the promised benefits, and is typically linked to Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), which actually leads to more GHG emissions, not less.

There is a massive global industry in hydrogen production and use today. Less than 1% of the hydrogen produced worldwide is 'green'. That's because the process to make hydrogen from renewable energy is massively inefficient and therefore expensive. If anyone believes that financial reality can be overcome, then they need to start with those lower-cost methods to make clean hydrogen, and not allow 'grey' and 'blue' hydrogen to become entrenched in what is supposed to be a climate-friendly approach to creating a 'green' fuel.

October 20, 2023 Hydrogen Ladder Version 5.0 (Michael Liebreich)
My over-simplified summary: other technologies are advancing faster than hydrogen, technically and economically, so the viable use cases for hydrogen as a fuel (not just 'green' hydrogen) are shrinking with time.

October 23, 2023 Hydrogen Demand Is Going To Fall Even Faster In Updated 2100 Projection (Clean Technica)
Based on the infinite hype power of hydrogen in mainstream media, I bet you weren't expecting that headline.

October 24, 2023 Weekly data: The underreported global warming impact of hydrogen gas (MSN)
In my opinion, the concern is valid. The figures used in the article are gross underestimates of the short-term impact.
The GWP100 number used in the study (approximately 12 times that of CO2) is not very helpful. We need to be focusing on GWP10 numbers. For methane, GWP10 is 104 while GWP100 is 28 (while the Canadian government is locked into using 25 - a serious underestimate of the impact base on outdated research). As most hydrogen is produced from methane (fossil gas - less than 1% of hydrogen is produced from green sources worldwide), the fugitive emissions from fossil methane gas production, transport and storage also need to be considered as part of the hydrogen climate warming hazard.
As hydrogen is about the most reactive common chemical in the atmosphere, a GWP100 number has little connection to reality for informed decision-making. Free hydrogen in Earth's atmosphere is reported as 2 years in the study, not a century. So the GWP100 number is likely a severe underestimate of the short-term impact of hydrogen leaks. The study says the GWP20 number is about 37 for hydrogen.
Another paper says the GWP10 number for hydrogen in the atmosphere (tropospheric plus stratospheric) is about 66. (bottom page 5)
But, it's probably worse than that. The Center on Global Energy Policy says: "A recent preprint study modeling continuous emissions of H2 estimated that over a 10-year period hydrogen has an approximately 100 times stronger warming effect than carbon dioxide (CO2) (Ocko and Hamburg 2022). The indirect global warming effect of hydrogen leakage into the atmosphere is rarely considered on a large scale."

October 25, 2023 Environmentalists Slam EU Hydrogen Pipeline Plan As Favoring Fossil Fuel Giants (
Here's the lede from the article: "the list of projects includes fossil fuel pipelines that could be converted to hydrogen pipelines, with high uncertainty they would work for hydrogen. Such projects would only give an excuse to fossil fuel companies to keep using natural gas pipelines, they claim."
Remember, conventional fossil methane gas pipelines are not compatible with hydrogen due to leakage and embrittlement issues.

October 25, 2023 Exclusive: Shell cuts low-carbon jobs, scales back hydrogen in overhaul by CEO (Reuters)
Another oil and gas major bails on hydrogen as they realize there is no sustainable business model there, or future profits. "Shell was one of the early backers of hydrogen-fueled cars, but it has in recent years closed a number of hydrogen fuelling stations around the world, including in Britain, as consumers opted instead for electric vehicles."
Without taxpayer money to siphon off, there's no business interest in hydrogen as a fuel, let alone a green fuel.

October 30, 2023 Toyota pivots towards hydrogen trucks, admitting that its Mirai fuel-cell car has not been successful (Hydrogeninsight)
Toyota retreats on hydrogen as they realize there is no sustainable business model there, or future profits. "But Japanese automaker will not yet give up on H2 cars, even as its own solid-state battery tech undermines their use case"
Without taxpayer money to siphon off, there's no business case for hydrogen road vehicles.

November 2023

November 6, 2023 Climate Benefits of Hydrogen Are at Risk as Fossil Fuel Industry Pressures Mount (Scientific American)
Another oil and gas major bails on hydrogen as they realize there is no sustainable business model there, or future profits. "Rigorous standards are required to scale hydrogen as a clean energy solution; otherwise, it will be a costly, polluting diversion"
Given the initial major participants in the H2Hubs, I think we're already at 'costly, polluting diversion'.

November 8, 2023 You thinking charging an EV is bad? Try filling a hydrogen-powered car! (AutoBlog)
Note: this hydrogen as vehicle fuel reality check took place in California, the land of the "Hydrogen Highway".
By comparison,
Canada has 3 public hydrogen fueling stations at last count. For the entire country.

November 9, 2023 Gas grids can already cope with 20% hydrogen blends? That simply isn't true, says new report from network operator (Hydrogeninsight)
Spanish gas association publishes study highlighting the €700m of retrofits that would be needed to safely mix H2 with natural gas
Hydrogen is the smallest molecule. "Airtight" is an open door to hydrogen. Pipe or seal that will contain methane is probably not designed to contain hydrogen. Hydrogen also embrittles metals like iron and steel, making an existing infrastructure designed for methane more fragile with hydrogen exposure over time. Hydrogen requires its own infrastructure, purpose-built to be much tighter than conventional gas pipelines and impervious to embrittlement hazards.

November 9, 2023 Nuclear is out, hydrogen is in: Where countries put energy R&D money (Financial Post)
It's good to see governments are finally awakening to the failed promise of nuclear energy, making very expensive electricity, massive quantities of waste heat, and a nuclear waste legacy for which there is still no viable solution. It's unfortunate the new darling for energy research money is just as bad for our future - allegedly clean hydrogen. The issues there are that we already have a large global hydrogen industry, and it's not clean, and making clean hydrogen is enormously inefficient and expensive. Which doesn't include the even more expensive infrastructure build required to store, transport and distribute hydrogen or some proxy hydrogen 'carrier', e.g. ammonia. It's devastatingly sad to see this because a cleaner alternative to the fever-dreams of the hydrogen zealots is already in place and being built and it is cheaper than the fossil fuels it is displacing now. That's distributed zero-emissions renewables like wind and solar (photovoltaic and thermal), energy storage and electric propulsion, space heating using heat pumps, and electrical transmission lines which can be used optimally due to distributed storage.

November 9, 2023 French city that pioneered hydrogen buses will opt for battery-electric in future due to ongoing problems and high costs (Hydrogeninsight)
Hydrogen buses were the showcase use-case for hydrogen as a transportation fuel. From rail to trucks to buses, hydrogen has been - to be kind - a disappointment in real-world use. Battery buses are less expensive to buy and operate, and have fewer maintenance issues. The justification for buying these hydrogen buses initially - gobs of taxpayer money to massively subsidize those buses when they were acquired.

November 10, 2023 Plug Power collapses after 'going concern' warning from hydrogen developer (The Street)

November 10, 2023 Adventures In Failed Technology: Small Modular Reactors & Hydrogen Buses Entry (CleanTechnica)
I do like a good 2-for-1 deal. This one goes after two mythical beasts: affordable clean hydrogen as a fuel and small modular reactors that live up to their hype.
Think of this subtitle as the TL;DR.
"Small modular nuclear reactor and hydrogen for energy proposals and trials are all zombie proposals sucking time, effort, and willpower away from the necessary decarbonization of our economy. This little roundup is just an appetizer course for the absurd feast of riches to come with canceled projects and crashing dreams."

November 14, 2023 Warning! The linked article contains content that may be disturbing to hydrogen energy zealots.
Plug Power & Other Hydrogen For Energy Firms Skid Further Into The Abyss (CleanTechnica)

November 16, 2023 I had higher expectations from Minister Heyman and the BC government. Almost $3 million per truck which will only have 2 refuelling points in the province. With a fuel cost higher than diesel or electric, and which won't make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation. Hydrogen in BC is not a 'green' fuel - it is made by cracking natural gas. In the future, BC hopes to reduce the carbon intensity of its hydrogen fuel by implementing carbon capture and storage bags on the side of the natural gas reformers. Hasn't worked out anywhere else yet. By the way, BC had a 'hydrogen highway'. It was shut down because the vehicles were unreliable and too expensive to fuel. Déja vu, all over again.
B.C. to spend $16.5M to get 6 hydrogen-powered transport trucks on the road (CBC)

November 17, 2023 First: not financial advice. I point to this article only because a financial 'expert' has finally said the quiet part about the hydrogen financial bubble 'out loud': hydrogen is only a viable investment while the taxpayer money tap is turned on full (and ends when they fail to produce promised results).
3 Hydrogen Stocks With Strong Government Support (InvestorPlace)

November 23, 2023 Cambridge professor says grey hydrogen buses are expensive, ‘destructive’ and not a true zero-emissions solution
Victoria warned against ‘very inefficient’ hydrogen buses after trial announced (The Guardian)

November 23, 2023 Hydrogen isn't a good vehicle fuel, but it's worse if you need it and can't get it.
Three quarters of hydrogen refuelling stations in South Korea closed amid H2 supply crash (Hydrogeninsight)

November 24, 2023 If you want a synopsis of the hydrogen energy economy and in transportation specifically, here's a cautionary tale from Michael Barnard. Caution: contains truth and reality.
The Odyssey Of The Hydrogen Fleet: A Tragicomedy In Six Acts (CleanTechnica)

December 2023

December 4, 2023 Michael Liebreich's Hydrogen Ladder is worth studying - again
Hydrogen hype: ‘History will have a good laugh’ at us (Halifax Examiner)

December 5, 2023 US Hydrogen industry unhappy that tax credits for green hydrogen requires it to be green
Hydrogen Industry Raises Alarm Over Leaked US Tax Credit Rules (BNN Bloomberg)

December 6, 2023 'Green' hydrogen fueling costs: fantasy math won't make hydrogen economically viable
German Hydrogen Vs Battery Trucking Study Much Better Than ICCT’s But Still Optimistic On Hydrogen Pathway Costs (CleanTechnica)

December 7, 2023 Hydrogen hype vs. reality math: guess which one wins.
Snippets: "14 tanker trailers would be required to deliver the same energy in the form of compressed hydrogen to trucking stations as a tanker of diesel"
"local drayage and distances under 500 km are clearly going battery electric because the economics and battery energy density are so clearly suitable today for that" [emphasis added] What About Liquid Hydrogen Or Hydrogen Pipelines For Truck Stops? Yeah, No. (CleanTechnica)

December 10, 2023 We know the oil and gas industry is struggling on the PR side when there's another Hyperion XP-1 story, and here it is.
Hyperion XP-1: Pioneering Hydrogen As The Hypercar Fuel Of The Future (CarBuzz)

December 10, 2023 "As hydrogen is easier to ignite and is more prone to leaking than natural gas, homes will have to undergo some changes in order for it to be installed."
Those modifications should include replacing all the metal gas piping within the building, all valves - including the main cut-off, all gas appliances, additional sensors and ventilation holes in the building envelope.
Based on my reading and research, there is no way 'low carbon hydrogen' can be retrofitted into housing for less money than electric heat pumps and electric appliances, nor can the operating costs of hydrogen fuel be lower than electricity from renewables bolstered by battery storage
. Government pushes ahead with plans for the UK's first hydrogen towns despite backlash from locals over safety fears (Daily Mail)

December 11, 2023 It's one thing to postulate fantasy numbers about hydrogen production, another to actually do the work.
EXCLUSIVE | World's largest green hydrogen project 'has major problems due to its Chinese electrolysers': BNEF (Hydrogeninsight)

December 11, 2023 COP 28 oil industry flame out: Get ready for the onslaught of white/gold/natural hydrogen stories as the new distraction
One of the better treatments to date on this topic, and still not great.
Note the 'white' hydrogen finds are typically found by accident (Mali, now France) while looking for methane, so as an industry, they're not good at finding these deposits. The article also notes a lot of these posited deposits will be too difficult or expensive to exploit competitively. The theory as to how these deposits are created suggests they will be fairly rare. Finding them in remote areas creates an additional cleansing, storage and transportation layer before this hydrogen will have value. The article massively underestimates the size and value of the existing hydrogen industry, most of which is blue or grey hydrogen used by the oil industry today.

Note this paragraph from the article, knowing that the oil industry is the chief cheerleader for hydrogen as an energy store today. ""The big oil companies, I think, are very interested, but they're currently sitting on the sidelines, watching, taking a bit of a wait-and-see attitude. They're letting the start-ups take the risk - at this point this is a highly risky venture," says Mr Ellis." Even if it all turns out to be amazing, expect it to take a decade to get any significant amount to market, and imagine the state of electrification of transportation, domestic energy use and other purported markets as the oil and gas demand is cratering. Could there be a gold rush for buried hydrogen? (BBC)

December 12, 2023 Interesting to see the oil COP 28 agenda spontaneously bursting into flames and the resulting storm of hydrogen hype distraction news items hitting corporate media. This one: GM's Hydrogen 'power cubes'.
So, here are major takeaways. After decades of development, GM's hydrogen 'power cube' still isn't ready, and now they're announcing they expect to deliver a prototype in a couple of years. Justification: batteries aren't good at powering heavy loads. Seriously, but fuel cells are good at supporting heavy loads? Anyway, will get tested in Arizona, probably because GM's fuel cells really don't work at temperatures below freezing. Stay tuned for how Komatsu plans to provide hydrogen fuelling infrastructure for remote operating sites. GM’s hydrogen ‘power cubes’ will be used to power massive mining trucks (The Verge)

December 12, 2023 The U.S. Hydrogen Council harshes the COP 28 hydrogen hyping mellow - because reality
Wait, what? The cost of hydrogen is going up because of "an increase of renewable power cost by more than 30%". But, the cost of renewables is continuing to drop with amortized cost per kWh from photovoltaics and wind turbines continuing to drop dramatically world wide. Still, for the Hydrogen Council (aka the oil industry), this justifies sticking with non-green hydrogen because "the cost of blue hydrogen will be slightly under that of green hydrogen from 2025 to 2050." Well, the conclusion isn't a surprise, even if the justification is bogus. Cost of producing green hydrogen has risen by 30-65% due to multiple factors: Hydrogen Council (Hydrogeninsight)

December 13, 2023 Repeat after me: better construction, better insulation and weather-sealing, heat pumps, green the grid.
UK government backs plan to ban gas and ‘hydrogen-ready’ boilers (The Guardian)

December 14, 2023 So, what exploded to cause this 180-degree turn? The UK government has been pushing hydrogen for heating hard, despite standing evidence it is an energy pig, will create more GHG emissions, creates a new level of hazard for residents, is generally physically unworkable and a much worse choice than simple off-the-shelf measures like improving building envelope sealing, better insulation, upgraded windows and doors, and heat pumps.
‘Hydrogen village’ plan in Redcar abandoned after local oppositionF (The Guardian)

December 14, 2023 As an Ontario resident who can spell 'energy policy', I endorse this article.
Ontario’s Hydrogen Approach Will Be A B-School Case Study In Failure (CleanTechnica)

December 18, 2023 More woolly thinking about the laws of thermodynamics from hydrogen advocates
ICCT Thinks Green Hydrogen For Shipping Will Have More Energy Than Electricity Required To Make It (CleanTechnica)

December 19, 2023 Even those with a good grasp of the entropy problems in the hydrogen energy cycle often overlook the cost of getting pure water for electrolysis
Green hydrogen and its water use problem (PV magazine)

December 19, 2023 Even with great intentions and massive taxpayer funds available, this is not going to happen with 12 years. All the 'green' electricity will have to be built from scratch. As India today produces most of its electricity from coal and petroleum and has regular electric supply issues, this wouldn't even be starting from zero - it starts from a negative position. Then when you consider the massive energy losses in converting from 'green' electricity to hydrogen, let alone ammonia, the rational answer has to be using whatever 'green' electricity India can muster to supply its own national grid for daily use, and daily storage will be based on pumped storage or batteries, not multi-step chemical reactions to make hydrogen or ammonia, and then more chemical steps to reverse the process a few hours later.
Indian oil giant plans $10bn spend on green hydrogen and ammonia projects by 2035 (Hydrogeninsight)

December 20, 2023 More government funded hype for green hydrogen plans (Egypt)
The biggest owner of ACWA is the Saudi government. The other partners in this proposed project are various agencies of the Egyptian government.
$4 Billion Says Green Hydrogen Is Here To Stay, With A Green Ammonia Twist (Clean Technica)

December 22, 2023 So many problems with the story line in this article ...
I'm just going to pick on a couple.
The 'hydrogen industry' (read oil and gas sector) are alarmed about rules that won't take effect for five years (so they're assuming no innovation possible in that period), and primarily require that their 'green' hydrogen is actually produced using 'green' (renewable, "zero-emissions") energy sources (e.g., solar PV, solar thermal, wind, tidal, wave, renewable natural gas, biodiesel ...). They must be in shock that taxpayer money specifically targeted at reducing GHG emissions and labelled as 'clean energy' will actually require them to come up with some clean energy to power their projects. Oh, the horror!
A supported politician moans on cue, "it makes no sense to kneecap the hydrogen market before it can even begin", apparently unaware the hydrogen market is a multi-billion dollar, world-wide market already. The catch for 'green hydrogen' is that less than 1% of hydrogen produced and used today comes from clean sources - the vast majority comes from cracking (generally steam reforming) natural gas, and much of that goes to upgrading petroleum in the refining process to make gasoline, diesel, heating oil ...
Of course, if you weren't wedded to continued use of fossil fuels, there's an easy solution to showing you are using renewable energy every hour in two parts. 1) you actually have to build some infrastructure that produces renewable energy - preferably electricity to be able to power electrolyzers (because that's how you generally make 'green' hydrogen. 2) install some battery storage as a buffer between your possibly intermittent electricity supply and your electrolyzers' energy demand. For bonus points, use electrolyzers that can ramp up and down withoug a big hit on efficiency. The catch here is, if a 'green hydrogen' facility uses a battery to make their operation viable, people might realize that battery energy storage is so much better (less expensive to install, more flexible, massively more efficient) than the 'green' hydrogen technology, then they might just skip the part that includes the hydrogen.
Finally, installing more 'green' hydrogen capacity won't reduce overall GHG emissions. By wasting so much of the source renewable low/zero-emission energy on the multi-step conversion losses in the hydrogen energy cycle, much less of that really valuable (but typically less expensive to produce) clean energy will be lost to entropy, thus delaying the transition to a lower emissions world and generating more GHGs overall.
Here's Princeton University's take on how 'green hydrogen' can make methane emissions worse.
The Financial Times article that started my rant above:
US Treasury moves to restrict hydrogen tax breaks offered by IRA (Financial Times)

December 22, 2023 A few days ago, I wondered what 'exploded' to get the UK government to make an abrupt U-turn on their years-long policy of forcing residents in some villages to accept hydrogen blended with natural gas for use in their homes. We might have a winner.
Long-suppressed hydrogen explosion risk report and video released after ruling from UK commissioner (Hydrogeninsight)

December 22, 2023 I particularly enjoyed the focus on Canadian hydrogen boondoggles in this article.
More Hydrogen Fleets That Reached The End Of The Tragicomedy Including Iceland (CleanTechnica)

December 25, 2023 Transport of hydrogen is an energy problem, even via pipelines of significant length.
New Hydrogen Pipeline Vs HVDC Study Less Wrong, More Clearly Shows Hydrogen Uneconomic (CleanTechnica)

December 25, 2023 The problem with hydrogen as a fuel isn't that the technology won't work. With enough time (lacking) and taxpayer money (apparently infinite for hydrogen anything), the technology will work and continue to improve. The fundamental problems are not making electrolysis and fuel cells work; they've been around a long time. The hydrogen fuel cell dates back to at least 1843. However, the energy conversion losses in the hydrogen fuel cycle are enormous, building the delivery infrastructure is financially daunting and likely beyond government coffers to fund, and it can't compete financially with other green energy options that are already commercially available with infrastructures in place (e.g., renewable electricity, batteries and biofuels), and are also continuing to improve.
Hydrogen-powered aircraft completes first flight and is voted Breakthrough Technology of 2023 (NotebookCheck)

December 28, 2023 The old saying is, hydrogen is the fuel of the future - and always will be.
Perhaps a new saying should be, hydrogen is the fuel of fantasies which must receive infinite taxpayer subsidies. Ballard Averaging $55 Million Annual Losses While Pushing Hydrogen Rock Uphill With Grants (CleanTechnica)

December 29, 2023 If Michael Barnard had been writing this stuff 20-25 years ago, it would saved me writing the book.
Hydrogen Van Firm ‘First Hydrogen’ Fated To Fail But What Questions Does It Raise? (CleanTechnica)
If decision-makers other than the US DOE back when my book was published had paid attention, we could have saved a lot of taxpayer money in the past couple of decades, and put the time, money and effort into things that work much earlier.

January 2024

January 8, 2024 This is still too optimistic, unless taxpayers continue footing most of the bill for those limited number of truck operators. These trucks will be constrained by the limited number of fuelling depots that will be available, which will restrict them to major routes, which should be served by efficient freight rail. Off-rail routes will be hard for H2 trucks due to the risk of running out of fuel far from sparse refueling points. Virtually no light vehicles will run on H2 due to the sticker price of the vehicles and high fuel costs due to the horrid conversion losses inherent in the green hydrogen energy cycle where battery EVs will eat their lunch.
Only 4% of zero-emissions vehicles will be powered by hydrogen in 20 years' time: analyst (Hydrogeninsight)

January 9, 2024 This despite massive taxpayer subsidies for hydrogen remaining in place in Europe.
Sales of hydrogen cars in Europe's largest market collapsed in 2023, with nearly 70% drop in registrations (Hydrogeninsight)

January 10, 2024 Seriously, 5 million tonnes a year of green hydrogen production in India?
India targets 5 MMTPA green hydrogen to curb $185 billion energy import bill (India Times)
This WEF-Bain fantasy has to be put out of our misery, though the hypesters keep bringing this zombie impossibility back into the headlines.
1) India is a net importer of energy, and it is currently hooked on coal and oil.
Over 80% of India's electricity is generated from 'thermal' sources (coal, oil, gas)
2) Its renewable energy base may actually be shrinking as the Himalayan snow pack recedes.
3) Nuclear fission is not a renewable energy source.
4) India has routine shortages of electricity nation-wide.
5) India's population is growing, and getting hotter, so demand for air conditioning will expand.
6) India is slowly shifting to electric vehicles from fossil fuels (a good thing), which will increase demand for electricity.
Producing 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen via electrolysis will require billions of litres of distilled water. Clean water is already in short supply in India. Then it has to be distilled for use in an electrolyzer, using more (green?) energy. State of the art commercial electrolyzers use at least 70 kWh of electricity to make a kg of hydrogen From the abstract of the paper "Multi-year energy performance data for an electrolysis-based hydrogen refueling station": "The 2020 first quarter energy consumption was between 70 and 80 kWh/kg."
Making 5 million tonnes (1,000 kg per tonne) a year will require an additional 350 billion kWh of green electricity annually. (70 kWh per kg * 1,000 kg per tonne * 5,000,000 tonnes = 350 trillion kWh or 350 TWh)
In 2020, India had 22 nuclear reactors which produced a total of 43 TWh in 2020-21, or about 0.5 TWh each. (
To generate the additional electricity to produce 5 million tonnes of hydrogen would require bringing the equivavlent of an additional 700 nuclear reactors worth of green electricity online.
And it's improbable that India will get there with actual 'green' electricity, say solar. In the past few years, India hasn't even managed their recent targets (100 GW by 2022) for bringing PV energy online, before even considering a set-aside for green hydrogen production.
Currently, India gets less than 12% of its electricity from renewables, over 73% from burning coal (and rising). The percentage increase in renewable electricity is barely exceeding growth in demand in India today, before they start diverting massive amounts to producing hydrogen.
Finally, making hydrogen part of the energy cycle will use at least 5 times as much primary energy (in this case, green electricity) as storing the generated, typically intermittent, electricity in batteries (in EVs or as grid storage) - and current technology electrolyzers don't like intermittent input power.

January 15, 2024 This is a longish piece on the fallacies of the hydrogen energy mirage, but if you think that energy cycle has any merit, you need to invest the time to read this.
RMI Has Fallen Into The Hydrogen For Energy Pit Again (CleanTechnica)

January 15, 2024 Hydrogen hypesters: read to the end before you get excited by the headline.
Prince George Teralta Hydrogen For Energy Initiative Actually Makes Sense (CleanTechnica)

January 18, 2024 This analysis is about GHG emissions only. It does not factor in the huge difference in fueling costs between battery-electric and hydrogen-fuel-cell systems. It also assumes that fuel cells will have the same longevity in tranport applications as batteries, which is not yet proven.
Why electric trucks, not hydrogen, are our best bet to cut road transport emissions (The Driven)

January 19, 2024 MAN Truck & Bus has long experience with hydrogen fuel cell technology, so he knows whereof he speaks.
MAN CEO: “impossible” for hydrogen to compete with BEVs (electrek)

January 19, 2024 This eye-watering estimate does not include making ships that can run on ammonia. For scale, this number is in the league of the annual GDP of Italy or Canada, and just shy of that of France.
Switching global shipping to hydrogen-derived green ammonia would require US$2.25trn of infrastructure investment: study (Hydrogeninsight)

January 26, 2024 Once again, the hydrogen hype lobby does its media release sleight-of-hand and pretends this non-accomplishment is important. There is no doubt the Nikola stock price needs pumping.

Normally, in these entries, I would provide a link to the web article. However, in this case, activating the link invokes two attempted botnet attacks. So, don't access this article unless your device is very secure and up-to-date against malware attacks. Amusingly, the site advertises itself as secure (https:).
httpscolonshashslashwww.trucknews.comslashsustainabilityslashnikola-hydrogen-fcev-completes-edmonton-calgary-round-trip-without-refuelingslash1003181567slash Nikola hydrogen FCEV completes Edmonton-Calgary round-trip without refueling (

With that PSA out of the way, I'm going to cherry-pick some content from the article for sake of argument, so you won't need to click on the link.

"The Alberta Motor Transport Association’s (AMTA) Nikola hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicle (FCEV) completed a 519-km round-trip from Edmonton to Calgary without needing to refuel and with hydrogen in the tank to spare."

Why does a trucking association have a hydrogen fuel-cell truck, and what sticker price was paid with members' money?
Well, according to Nikola, they sold 2 trucks to the AMTA in in April 2023. No price mentioned in their media release. Point of interest, one of the trucks is battery electric, not hydrogen.

According to this media release from Nature Resources Canada, AMTA did not pay for the required hydrogen fueling station. Nope, that bill went to Canadian taxpayers, to the tune of $2.3 million.
But wait, there's more. Other entities - some of which also have received federal taxpayer money for promoting the hydrogen mirage also chipped in a few bucks. Grand total admitted to: $9.2 million.
AMTA is quoted in that media release as taking credit for "helping lead Canada's commercial transportation industry toward a zero-emission future", but not as a funder for the project. So, AMTA did not fund the fueling station or the truck.

But, NRCan's own map of hydrogen fuelling stations shows ZERO locations in Alberta (2024.01.27).
So where's the hydrogen fueling station that Canadian taxpayers paid for? Just part of the hydrogen mirage.
(Fun fact, NRCan's map shows 1398 EV charging points in Alberta.)

But I digressed from the non-accomplishment point.

Nikola demonstrated that an unloaded hydrogen fuel cell truck could travel 500 km without requiring refueling.
Commercial trucking isn't new. The hydrogen fuel cell has been around since 1843. The electric drive train is commercially available technology since at least the early 1900s.

Meanwhile, Pepsi is reporting their fully-loaded Tesla semis are doing 450 miles (over 700 km) on a single charge in daily revenue service, and that's not the claimed range per Tesla (over 800 km per charge - fully loaded).
Tesla reports their semis can travel more than 1000 miles (1600 km) per day.

So, the Nikola announcement isn't even a breakthrough for zero-emissions trucks.

But what Nikola and AMTA don't address is, where did the hydgrogen come from, is it truly zero GHG including upstream processes to create the hydrogen, and is the hydrogen fueliing cost competitive with diesel or electric? We know the distribution infrastructure for hydrogen as a road fuel in Canada is non-existent, so that's another multi-billions of dollars investment yet to be foisted on taxpayers.

January 26, 2024 Hydrogen vehicles lose on sticker price, operating costs AND maintenance.
Hydrogen Fleets Are Much More Expensive To Maintain Than Battery & Even Diesel (CleanTechnica)

January 26, 2024 In case you thought hydrogen vehicles were a recent technological marvel.
A History Of Hydrogen-Powered Cars (CarBuzz)

January 27, 2024 And then there's the issue of maintenance costs and downtime in the hydrogen distribution system
California’s Hydrogen Stations Being Fixed More Hours Than Pumping At 15% Capex Per Year (CleanTechnica)

January 29, 2024 What's worse than long distance hauling of hydrogen? Ammonia.
Importing Ammonia As An Energy Carrier Is Bad Policy & Worse Economics (CleanTechnica)

January 29, 2024 Looks like Nikola is trying to make a business out of moving empty trucks
Nikola hydrogen FCEV semi completes 400 mile trip – is it enough? (electrek)
But the real reason I'm sharing this article is the last three paragraphs. In short, the charade of hydrogen as a transportation fuel is powered solely by taxpayer-funded subsidies. If those stop, the hyprogen bubble bursts. We should want that to happen before the bubble gets big enough to matter.

February 2024

February 1, 2024 Uh-oh, somebody said the secret part out loud.
Get a beverage and get comfy, because this 'brief' is going to take a while to read and digest.
Green Hydrogen: A Multibillion-Dollar Energy Boondoggle
The hydrogen hypesters hate it when people look at the system and do math, instead of just cherry-picking the best bits for the fantasy narrative.

Here's a tease from the Issue Brief.
"As this Issue Brief will explain, the Clean Hydrogen Strategy and the accompanying tax credits are a multibillion-dollar energy boondoggle that is unlikely to be achieved and, even if it is achieved, will have no measurable impact on climate. The high cost of the production tax credit—$3/kg is equivalent to $91 per megawatt-hour (MWh), based on the energy content of hydrogen—is far greater than wholesale electricity prices in the U.S., which in 2023 averaged between $30/MWh and $50/MWh."
It's good of the U.S. taxpayer to be so generous in bailing out the oil and gas industry, who continue to suffer from ever-growing record profits.

The apparent enthusiasm for more nuclear fission in the brief is misplaced. It is not an efficient energy source, not zero-emissions over the fuel cycle, and not cost-effective. The 'barriers' to adoption of more nuclear fission, including SMRs are primarily requiring that they work reliably and that they include reasonable safeguards against radiation release in the event of an incident. SMR advocates call those 'regulatory' and 'permitting' barriers, and also gloss over the fact that the industry still has no permanent solution for high-level and spent fuel radioactive waste. There is no reason to believe that increased use of nuclear fission (which is essentially constant output) will reduce the growing need for additional energy storage.

February 1, 2024 If you're going to fall for the hydrogen mirage, might as go for it in the desert
Fortescue & Nikola Insane Green Hydrogen For Trucking Play In Waterless Arizona Desert

February 1, 2024 Canadian taxpayers pick up the hydrogen tab for blending with fossil fuel
Government of Canada Announces Federal Investment in Gatineau Clean Hydrogen Production (Government of Canada)
Electricity from the Quebec grid is already 'clean', and mating that with heat pumps - an off-the-shelf solution - would be a better, more efficient, lower cost solution that can be implemented now.

February 2, 2024 How appropriate this appears on Groundhog Day.
It's like the movie, where the protaganist (fossil fuel industry) makes the same mistakes over and over again.
Should power plants burn clean hydrogen to make electricity? (Canary Media)
In the U.S., there is essentially no 'clean hydrogen' to be had. World-wide, 'clean hydrogen' is less than 1% of the multi-billion dollars per year hydrogen production industry. Using what little 'clean hydrogen' there is to make grid-scale electricity would be a massive financial and environmental blunder, with the bill being delivered to taxpayers and ratepayers while the fossil fuel industry reaps more profits by destroying a stable climate.
To be clear, it isn't a technology problem or a regulatory problem that is the show-stopper here.
It's the laws of thermodynamics and financial reality and the availability of better off-the-shelf solutions available today.

From the article: "Even if a power plant lucked into a hydrogen pipeline hookup, current costs make it bonkers to burn. For comparison to gas, Wetherby calculated that renewable hydrogen selling for $3 to $4 per kilogram equates to about $20 per million Btu. Natural gas at Henry Hub goes for less than $3 per MMBtu right now. Long Ridge actually extracts its own gas on-site, straight from the Marcellus Shale; clean hydrogen wouldn’t compete with its homegrown supply until it gets down to 25 cents per kilogram, way beyond the Department of Energy’s wildest dreams."

The premise here is that 'clean hydrogen' would be used for a short-term daily reserve for power plants, making the hydrogen. The thing is, storing energy for electrical generation is a solved problem. It involves either big batteries (which provide other benefits to the electrical grid beyond storage), or pumped storage, both of which are 'clean', and much cheaper than additional 'clean' hydrogen infrastructure for making, storing, transporting and burning hydrogen in a turbine or oxidizing it in a fuel cell. So, to repeat the TL;DR version: No, power plants should not burn clean hydrogen to make electricity.

February 2, 2024 India finds a new hydrogen black hole for taxpayer money
India Launches Pilot Projects for Green Hydrogen in Maritime Sector under National Mission (SolarQuarter)

February 6, 2024 I'm probably losing my mind from the avalanche of hydrogen nonsense the past few weeks, but I wonder if this could be a real, viable, economically rational niche for green hydrogen, where the iron and bauxite red mud are reasonably close to each other in sizable quantity. I'll have to leave it to someone else to dig in.
Researchers create green steel from toxic red mud in 10 minutes (New Atlas)

February 6, 2024 When the hydrogen hypesters get caught out on facts, they get angry, and have the resources to be nasty - been there.
Hydrogen For Energy Types Are Getting More And More Angry (CleanTechnica)

February 7, 2024 Ditch hydrogen for the win
Battery storage plus hydrogen can enable a reliable, cheap clean energy transition (PV Magazine)

So close to the right answers, but the headline doesn't reflect this text in the article: "while existing hydropower and batteries can ensure grid reliability, adding green hydrogen to the system can reduce the energy costs in some regions, although a combination of hydropower and green hydrogen with no batteries is always more expensive than a combination of the three"
Let me parse that tortured text for you: green hydrogen isn't the low cost solution - ever.

Or, you could look at the iScience paper Batteries or hydrogen or both for grid electricity storage upon full electrification of 145 countries with wind-water-solar?" Highlights: second bullet point
Lowest cost is with CH (hydropower), CH + BS (batteries), or CH + BS + GHS (green hydrogen) but never CH + GHS or GHS alone

But why is that? Spoiler - because the efficiency of the green hydrogen energy storage cycle sucks.

Let's start from the premise that electricity from wind and solar power happen when the wind blows and the sun shines, and demand for electricity isn't synchronized to those sources. If you're the fossil fuel industry, that makes intermittent zero-emissions, zero-cost-fuel that they do not control completely unacceptable as an energy solution. Forturnately for us, saner minds have taken us to the point that we are growing our production of clean electricity, and we have found acceptable storage solutions to buffer the gap between clean electricity production and end-use. These include hydro reservoirs, pumped storage, and batteries - including 'flow batteries'. What they don't include, after 200 years of the technology being in existence, is substantial use of hydrogen as an energy store.

We have built hydro dams since the 1800s. Still build and use those on large scale. We have had batteries since the 1800s. Still build and use those. We have had pumped storage since the 1800s. Still build and use that. We have options other than hydrogen for energy (electricity proxies) storage which are proven to work, are reasonably efficient on a round-trip basis and cost-effective.

And then there's hydrogen. I have done this routine so many times, it's annoying. So this time, short form. Let's assume that the end objective is to have clean electricity as an end product, delivered where and WHEN it is needed. This is the primary function of today's electrical grid, and for the most part it seems to work at the delivery part, and is slowly shifting to clean with time and a desire by utilities to reduce generation costs. Note that last bit: not because they want a clean grid, because money.

Saving money for utilities means reducing fuel costs, but especially construction (capital) and maintenance costs. One way to do that is to use storage to provide electricity on demand (dispatchable power) rather than build enough generators to meet maximum demand. So, storage is already part of the utility took kit, including hydro reservoirs and pumped storage, and batteries. Australia's grid is installing battery storage at a break-neck pace - and the drivers for that costly endeavour? Avoiding delivery failures and saving money. There are some folks who really crunch the numbers on this stuff. Like NREL. They looked at capital cost, and operating/maintenance costs, but focused on round-trip energy efficiency (turning electricity into stored energy and back into electricity again). They came up with some numbers in 2022: 86% for batteries; 80% for pumped storage; and, not on the list: hydrogen.

So, short version of hydrogen storage round-trip efficiency. Start with a kWh of electricity from a solar panel. Put that into a buffer battery so you can run an electrolyser to turn the electricity into hydrogen (because clean solar power is intermittent and electrolysers don't like intermittent supply power). Put the produced hydrogen into compressed storage (otherwise it takes up way too much space to be useful). Store until needed, while venting some for safety reasons. Put the hydrogen into a fuel cell to make electricity. Easy peasy, just buy the gear, set it up and go. Sure, it's expensive, and still needs a battery, and storing hydrogen has some tricky safety issues. But what hasn't been mentioned yet is the round trip efficiency. Of that kWh of clean electricity from the PV panel, how much comes out the other end of the storage system when it's needed?

A commercial electrolysis unit, like those supplied by Linde, aspire to 70% efficiency, starting from distilled water. Compression of hydrogen typically uses up about 15% energy equivalent of the stored hydrogen (5,000 psi). Leakage from storage is expected to be around 0.25% per day. Then the hydrogen is put into a variable-output-rate fuel cell (e.g. PEM) to make electricity, which costs the equivalent of 40% to 50% of the embodied energy in the hydrogen, which is then fed instantaneously to the grid via an industrial scale inverter (85-95% efficiency or 5-15% loss) (avoiding the need for another battery). Now we have to do some math. Relax, I'm going to do it for you. And, I'm going to be really nice to the hydrogen storage scenario taking their best case numbers for each step.

  • making the distilled water - we'll give them that one for free (and it's not), and the buffer battery
  • electrolysis 70% efficient (and it's not)
  • compression 85% efficient (only for low pressure compression)
  • storage losses - they're small, so we'll give them that for free as well)
  • fuel cell to produce electricity 60% efficient
  • inverter 95% efficient

  • String those together [ .7 x .85 x .6 x .95] and we get an extremely optimistic round-trip efficiency of 0.33915 or 34%. In reality, it won't be that good. 15% to 20% is closer.

    Eventually if you're going to store clean electrical energy, realistically you're going to have to choose between one of these round-trip efficiencies:
  • Battery: 86%
  • Pumped storage: 80% or
  • Hydrogen storage: 34% (or worse)
  • Put another way, if you choose to store energy as hydrogen, you will need at least 3 times as much generation capacity (be it wind turbines, solar panels ...) than if you used batteries. Remember, utilities want to avoid constructing more generation capacity than necessary because money.

    There are flow batteries which can store immense amounts of energy, such as used at Kodiak, Alaska.

    Also note, in this scenario, we didn't even talk about transporting the hydrogen.

    February 7, 2024 The energy cycle efficiency sucks for ammonia as fuel - drop-in biofuels anyone?
    Ammonia attracts the shipping industry, but researchers warn of its risks (TechExplore)

    February 8, 2024 If Shell can't be bothered to keep its subsidized hydrogen fuelling points open, that should make it pretty clear what the future holds for clean hydrogen light vehicles.
    Shell permanently closes all of its hydrogen refuelling stations for cars in California (Hydrogeninsight)

    February 8, 2024 Reminder - you can recharge an EV pretty much anywhere there is a plug: at home, at work ...
    Hydrogen Refueling Station Closures In Multiple Countries More Painful News For Hydrogen Proponents (CleanTechnica)

    February 8, 2024 If the vendor knew the hydrogen filling stations were expected to work, they probably would have had to put their tender price up.
    'Fraud, false promises, concealment' | Iwatani files lawsuit against Nel over faulty hydrogen refuelling stations (Hydrogeninsight)

    February 8, 2024 One of the key conclusions from the David Hughes CCPA report is about hydrogen
    From the Key Conclusions from the 64-page report "Getting to net-zero in Canada" (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)
    "Overreliance on hydrogen introduces high risk: CER’s projection that hydrogen can grow from almost nothing to 11–12% of end-use energy supply by 2050 is extremely optimistic. Current production of hydrogen is very energy- and emissions-intensive and producing it from electricity consumes 54–82% of the electrical energy in the conversion process. Although some hydrogen will be needed, a more realistic goal may be the more conservative 5% estimate of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

    February 8, 2024 Sigh. It's as if the German government doesn't understand that hydrogen as an energy store will increase GHG emissions and waste massive amounts of actual clean energy, or that using fossil methane as a 'bridge fuel' is the fossil sector's plan to shift to grey or blue hydrogen, not green.
    Disappointing. More taxpayer money wasted to not solve the problem and increase gas industry profits. The solution is conservation, load management and storage, not fossil methane peaker plants. Germany makes a risky bet on Hydrogen energy (Money Control)

    February 9, 2024 How is it that fossil methane in the U.S. always get treated as 'green'?
    The [U.S.] New Hydrogen Rules Risk Opening the Door to Methane Offsets (

    February 9, 2024 More on Shell shuttering hydrogen stations and Nel electrolyser fraud accusations
    Shell Shuts Down Its US Hydrogen Filling Stations (CleanTechnica)

    February 11, 2024 If the millions of light road vehicles aren't a viable market for hydrogen fuel, what mass market justifies the taxpayer investment in hydrogen transport, storage and distribution infrastructure?
    Hydrogen 'not optimal for use in vehicles like cars' as UK risk falling behind with refuelling network (GBN)

    February 12, 2024 Is this really better than a battery-electric drive system?
    Hydrogen container ship could slash carbon emissions by 3000 tons (electrek)
    Dug in a little bit on this one. First, funding for this vessel came from the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. That's fair, a novel technology that looks promising may well need to be funded by other than straight-up private-sector means in order to evaluate it.
    Note, due to the way the fuel cell system works and is sized, it still requires a battery pack and uses a fully-electric propulsion system - the H2 part is really a different kind of battery.
    While Rotterdam has grand plans, there is no evidence that green hydrogen is being produced there yet, although a number of hydrogen import points appear on their project map. Shell is a partner, and its commitment to 'green' hydrogen remains dubious.
    The distance from Rotterdam to Duisbert is about 100 miles (160 km). This could be covered using a battery-electric barge, which would be considerably more energy efficient over the fuel cycle than using 'green' hydrogen. Electric barges: new trend in intermodal transport
    Based on this information, withholding judgment on viability until more data is in, but battery electric is going to be hard to beat on GHG emissions reduction and fuel-cycle efficiency.

    February 12, 2024 How good people end up going down the hydrogen rabbit-hole
    The Life Story Of A Committed Hydrogen-For-Energy Worker Unfolds (CleanTechnica)
    If only these people had ended up with a copy of The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy (note ebook available), instead of The Hydrogen Economy.

    February 13, 2024 A reasonably concise and balanced treatment of the state of hydrogen as a fuel for light vehicles
    Will hydrogen overtake batteries in the race for zero-emission cars? (The Guardian)

    February 15, 2024 The hydrogen for energy mirage is fuelled by taxpayer money
    Hydrogen subsidies | Australian solar-to-methanol project secures €24m grant — with half coming from Germany (Hydrogeninsight)

    February 15, 2024 Even 7 billion Euros of taxpayer money tossed onto the hydrogen bonfire won't beat the laws of thermodynamics
    Biggest yet | EU green-lights €7bn in hydrogen infrastructure subsidies from seven member states (Hydrogeninsight)
    A billion here, a couple billion there, now 7 billion, eventually it adds up to real money - even for politicians. Though, clearly, we're not there yet.
    For what? To take some green electricity, turn it into hydrogen to move it about, then turn it back into electricity somewhere else later. All with an 80% efficiency penalty, so we actually have to make 5 times as much green electricity in the first place for the folly of keeping the hydrogen for energy dream alive.
    In my books, that's a text-book case of a losing proposition.
    Yet, the decision-makers setting fire to this money don't seem to notice the major advocates for the hydrogen mirage - the massively profitable fossil fuels industry - aren't ponying up their own money (at least not in serious amounts) - despite being the biggest producers and users of hydrogen on the planet.
    Doesn't that seem odd if the industry really believes this is THE energy market of the future?
    Shouldn't government energy analysts actually be doing some fiscal analysis on the opportunity cost of going down the hydrogen for energy rabbithole compared to other (in my opinion, based on math) options that are all ready commercialized at scale and seeing cost reductions year over year to produce real green electricity and store it and transport it at much lower losses?

    February 16, 2024 Methinks Wood Mackenzie doesn't understand what the 'colours of hydrogen' actually mean. Or they're deliberating trying to denigrate what 'green' hydrogen is so the others are somehow seen as more legitimate.
    Over the rainbow - Why understanding full value-chain carbon intensity is trumping the colour of hydrogen
    From the report:
    "Calculating hydrogen’s carbon intensity is complex. For green (electrolytic) hydrogen, emissions can range from almost zero to levels beyond those of brown hydrogen. Green hydrogen is, in principle, made using 100% renewable energy. In practice, however, what is described as ‘green’ can also be produced using power from a grid that relies heavily on fossil fuels."
    Emmm, actually, no, that is incorrect.
    "Green hydrogen is defined as hydrogen produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity through a process called electrolysis. This results in very low or zero carbon emissions." - Green Hydrogen Organization
    Given that was the starting point for the WoodMac report, I stopped reading at that point.

    February 16, 2024 New study: for Europe, the transition to reduced GHGs will feature more electrification and less hydrogen than previously thought
    Distinct roles of direct and indirect electrification in pathways to a renewables-dominated European energy system (OneEarth)

    February 16, 2024 China is going to need a lot more reneaable energy if they plan to run on green hydrogen.
    Global sales of hydrogen vehicles fell by more than 30% last year, with China becoming world’s largest market (Hydrogeninsight)

    February 18, 2024 A moment of levity regarding the real energy and money being wasted on a stark fantasy.
    Even ChatGPT Knows Hydrogen Is A Square Wheel In Transportation (CleanTechnica)

    February 19, 2024 Green Hydrogen to reduce emissions for shipping? The numbers aren't encouraging.
    ANALYSIS | How much green hydrogen and renewable energy will be needed to decarbonise global shipping? (Hydrogeninsight)
    So, we're talking 600 Terrawatt-hours of hydrogen from truly zero GHG emissions electricity by 2030 to get to just 10% of the energy required to 'green' shipping. That's 6 years. IMO, not remotely possible, even to get to 10%.

    February 20, 2024 There are better ways to spend taxpayer money than continuing to hype hydrogen.
    Another European Energy Study Assumes Unrealistically Cheap Hydrogen & Finds Significant Demand (CleanTechnica)

    February 20, 2024 Hydrides are not a new 'solution' for hydrogen storage, dating back to at least the 1960s.
    Ultra-high density hydrogen storage holds twice as much as liquid H2 (New Atlas)

    February 21, 2024 Fugitive hydrogen emissions would actually accelerate climate change
    We need to better understand hydrogen pros and pitfalls (National Observer)
    References the recent scientific paper Climate Impacts of Hydrogen and Methane Emissions Can Considerably Reduce the Climate Benefits across Key Hydrogen Use Cases and Time Scales

    February 21, 2024 On 'green' steel production, hydrogen can't compete, even with billions in subsidies
    'Green hydrogen is too expensive to use in our EU steel mills, even though we've secured billions in subsidies' (Hydrogeninsight)

    February 21, 2024 Can we just call it over when the 'solution' only 'wins' with skewed math, bad assumptions and piles of taxpayer money?
    EU JRC Puts Heavy Thumbs On Scale So Delivered Green Hydrogen From Africa Will Be Cheap (CleanTechnica)

    Cutting to the Chase

    I have been researching the potential for hydrogen as a climate-friendly, 'green' fuel for years. In short, it's a mirage used by the fossil fuel sector and funded mostly by taxpayers to enable strategies to deny climate change and delay the implementation of real solutions so the polluters can continue to profit from making the planet uninhabitable for humans.

    If you think hydrogen is the solution for your specific problem, you're likely making an error due to the unending media onslaught hyping the hydrogen mirage. I would be happy to look at your situation and suggest an alternative based on current commerical technology that will be reliable, lower-cost and more climate-friendly than 'green' hydrogen.

    If you're not ready to make contact yet, but want to know more, I recommend you get an electronic copy of my book (US$6) or go through my 2021 update presentation deck (free), or both.

    If you need more than you find here to avoid making a costly mistake on your energy system future, contact me for my consulting rates.

    The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy now cited by [*dead link:] the U.S. Department of Energy as a textbook on Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology

    Book review in the Spring 2009 Greenlife Ottawa magazine

    Book review at Journey to Forever 2008

    Book Review in Current Events magazine (Electric Auto Association) June/July 2007

    The Oil Drum article, Kyoto, Canadians, Energy and the Environment 2007.02.22

    [dead site:] Autobloggreen article on The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy 2007.01.13

    The Green Majority (CIUT radio 89.5 FM Toronto) 2006.12.29
    (interview starts at about 32:30 into the broadcast)

    Canadian Newsblog Interview 2006.12.23

    Article in the Ottawa Citizen 2006.12.15 (reprinted in Montreal Gazette 2007.01.08)

    More News

    A Local Review

    The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy by Darryl McMahon

    This book is a great read for the energy conscious person who is concerned with the environment and how ours and future generations will cope with our depleting fossil fuels. At present, McMahon believes hydrogen is not the answer. He reviews the many ways that hydrogen can be produced.

    McMahon points out that although hydrogen is an exceptional environmentally friendly fuel, its production uses fossil fuels which contribute to global warming. Hydrogen is not viable at present but can be a very clean and efficient 'future fuel' when technology finds ways of manufacturing it using alternative energy sources.

    With the world's fossil fuel supply quickly running out, the author uses the latter portion of the book to suggest ways of conserving energy. This section is a must read for everyone who wants to use less energy and save money at the same time.
    ( Peter Bayfield )

    The Personal Energy Plan ¤ Browse the book ¤ More News
    Book Updates¤ About the Title ¤ On Being an Author

    Edmonton (Alberta) Outlets for the Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy

    Audrey's Books 10702 Jasper Avenue NW

    North Bay (Ontario) Outlets for The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy

    [Link has bitrotted:] Gulliver's Books 157 Main Street West

    Ottawa Outlets for The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy

    Check your favourite bookstore to get your copy of The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy to prepare yourself for a future of rising energy prices.

    Arbour Environmental Shoppe (800 Bank Street)

    Ridemore 456 McArthur (at St. Laurent)

    Perfect Books (258 Elgin Street, near MacLaren)

    (If your favourite store for new books does not have The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy, ask them to get it for you.)

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