For Many, Hydrogen Is the Fuel of the Future. New Research Raises Doubts.

The latest bipartisan infrastructure package in Washington allocates $8 billion for regional hydrogen hubs. This provision was originally included in a separate bill introduced by Senator Joe Manchin (a Democrat from West Virginia), a major natural gas producer region. NextEra Energy was one of the companies that supported investment in hydrogen. It proposed a pilot plant for solar-powered hydrogen in Florida. Other Democrats, such as Representative Jamie Raskin from Maryland, have opposed the idea calling it an empty promise. Jim Walsh, a senior analyst in energy policy at Food & Water Watch (a Washington-based non-profit group), said that it is not a climate action. This is a fossil fuel subsidy, with Congress pretending they are doing something about climate change while supporting the next chapter in the fossil fuel industry. Jack Brouwer, the director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center University of California Irvine, stated that hydrogen would eventually need to be produced using renewable energy. This is what the industry calls "green hydrogen". It uses renewable energy to break down water into its constituent parts, hydrogen or oxygen. He said that this would eliminate both the methane and fossil leaks. He said that although hydrogen made from fossil fuels could be used as a transition fuel, it would only make a small contribution to the overall sustainable hydrogen economy. He said that first we use blue and then we make it all green. Because the electrolyzing of water to separate hydrogen atoms and oxygen is extremely energy-intensive, there is very little hydrogen that is green today. There is simply not enough renewable energy in most areas to make large amounts of green hydrogen. (Though if there is excess renewable energy in the world, it would be possible to convert it into hydrogen.


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