The National Hydrogen Association last week held a webinar titled, “The Future of Hydrogen: an Alternative Transportation Analysis for the 21st Century.” The webinar sought to provide near-term solutions for economic growth, energy security and the environment with hydrogen as the fuel of choice. The speakers were Frank Novachek of Xcel Energy and Dr. Sandy Thomas, President of H2Gen.
For this study of near-term applications, no new research was to be conducted as available now technology was to be used. In addition, computer simulation models could only be used if they were straightforward and could withstand scrutiny.
In the presentation, hydrogen ICE and fuel cell vehicles were compared to hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid, battery electric vehicles, biofuel and natural gas vehicles. Two sources were discussed for reducing greenhouse gases and dependency upon foreign energy including hydrogen used in the transportation sector and the greening of the electrical grid.
One of the main goals of this exercise was to see which vehicles could help roll back pollution levels to 80-percent below those surrounding us in the year 1990 and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were the only ones that could achieve this. What I found to be of particular interest is a chart on page 60 that shows the U. S. Department of Energy spending on hydrogen R&D compared to other projects.
The Wall Street bailout comes in number one at $700 billion followed by the Iraq War just under $600 billion so far, followed by the Federal Highway System, the Apollo Moon Project and tagging along at the end is the $1.2 billion hydrogen program, which was so miniscule by comparison that it didn’t even show up on the chart. So, the NHA had to times the number by a factor of 10 just so a person could visually see what is going on.
The NHA goes on to make a case for hydrogen autos in regard to fuel economy, infrastructure rollout costs, pollution reduction and basic societal costs that most people generally don’t think much about.
For people who are looking for a “pathway to hydrogen” this PDF file is a good read as it clearly details the advantages and costs of a hydrogen transportation system compared to other competing systems available today and in the next few years to follow.