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
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 2021It'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? (Actu-environnement.com)
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 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: https://live.aviaprod.no/direkte-hydrogen] 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 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
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 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
"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 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 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 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
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 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 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 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 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,
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
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. (
https://www.toyota.ca/toyota/en/vehicles/mirai/overview) 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. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Clarity).
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.
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. (
https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen_locations.html#/find/nearest?fuel=HY) 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 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 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 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.
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 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)
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 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.
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
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
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 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.? (OilPrice.com)
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,
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.
https://acp.copernicus.org/preprints/acp-2022-91/acp-2022-91.pdf (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 (OilPrice.com)
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
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 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".
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 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
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)
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:).
Nikola hydrogen FCEV completes Edmonton-Calgary round-trip without refueling (trucknews.com)
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.
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.
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.
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
January 26, 2024 In case you thought hydrogen vehicles were a recent technological marvel.
A History Of Hydrogen-Powered Cars
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
January 29, 2024 What's worse than long distance hauling of hydrogen? Ammonia.
Importing Ammonia As An Energy Carrier Is Bad Policy & Worse Economics
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?
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 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.
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."
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?
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.
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
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
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
February 7, 2024 Ditch hydrogen for the win
Battery storage plus hydrogen can enable a reliable, cheap clean energy transition
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
February 12, 2024 Is this really better than a battery-electric drive system?
Hydrogen container ship could slash carbon emissions by 3000 tons
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,
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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'
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
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),
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: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/resources/db/higheredcatalogs/H2.do?state=book&bookId=195]
the U.S. Department of Energy as a textbook on Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology
[dead site: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/01/13/the-hydrogen-economy-is-a-bad-idea-a-really-really-bad-idea/]
Autobloggreen article on The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy 2007.01.13
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 )
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: http://www.gulliversbookstore.com] 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.
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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