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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.

October 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, 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 2021

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 bit 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.)
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) 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 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 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), 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 Aspriation 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 Inddustries 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 or 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.

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
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
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
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.

September 22, 2023 Global push for clean hydrogen foiled by costs and lack of support, report finds
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.

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

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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