Hydrogen is an inconvenient source of energy

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Once again, the world hosted ClimateFest 26, aka the United Nations Conference of the Parties, where the hawkers of alternative energy projects try to dip their ladles into the river of climate change finance that flows across the globe.

This funding is generated by government promises framed by economically developed countries during previous COPs.

One of the perennial candidates as an energy source producing less greenhouse gases is our old friend hydrogen. Although it is the most abundant element in the universe, it continues to be woefully misunderstood and misrepresented by those who dream of replacing traditional energy sources (such as natural gas, diesel or gasoline). gasoline) by hydrogen.

This year, the hydrogen booster wish list as presented by the Canadian Energy-Climate Nexus (CECN) includes:

  • instituting new environmental regulations and government fuel standards;
  • public funding of “small regional ecosystems” to develop hydrogen as an energy source;
  • “Supporting potential manufacturers with investment incentives, funding programs, subsidies and long-term policies. “

Ironically, when you think of recent government actions toward other potential energy exports from Canada, the list includes initiatives to “help develop the potential export market and encourage upstream investment.”

There are a few issues with the CECN Hydrogen Wish List. Most importantly, hydrogen, although it is a charming element in its own right and an adequate energy carrier, is a poor substitute for other energy-carrying substances found on Earth, which hydrogen does. is not.

Although hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it is not very common as a freely available substance. Diatomic hydrogen (H2) is found in the atmosphere at only 500 parts per billion. Oxygen, by comparison, is found in the atmosphere at about one part per million.

The vast majority of elemental hydrogen is linked to other elements found on Earth (such as oxygen which combines with hydrogen to produce water, H2O).

To be used as a fuel, the hydrogen must first be stripped of these other compounds (usually fossil fuels), using energy to perform the stripping. As is the case in physics, there is no such thing as a free meal, so you can never get all the energy used to release hydrogen when you use it for fuel.

While the input energy could have been directly useful in other ways, it makes the entire conversion to hydrogen a waste of time and energy.

Another problem with hydrogen is that it is explosive when concentrated above about four percent in air. To contain and transport hydrogen, it must be concentrated so that it can easily cross the 4% mark in the event of a leak.

Would you like a few dozen cars with hydrogen tanks to be parked in the parking lot under your building?

I thought no.

Perhaps neighborhoods and activist groups will be more welcoming to hydrogen pipelines or tankers containing compressed hydrogen traveling along rails, highways and roads where fossil fuels now circulate?

Click here to downloadHydrogen as a fuel is simply not competitive with other potential fuels due to the factors mentioned above. This could explain why no one has ever seriously tried using hydrogen for fuel.

Hydrogen as a fuel is only useful as another environmental herring (like wind and solar power) that people are supposed to believe can replace the conventional and reliable forms of energy that have built and power our societies. .

Dreams of hydrogen fuel are also useful in extracting money from the global river of international aid flowing through the efforts of the United Nations Conventions of the Parties.

Governments in Canada, contrary to the bullying of hydrogen boosters, should avoid giving hard-earned taxpayer money to rent-seeking private companies that want to build another artificial, inefficient, and government-funded energy industry. government.

Let the real energy industries, created in free (but still regulated) markets, do what they do best: keep our lights on and our heating running at costs we can afford.

Kenneth Green is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Center for Public Policy.

Kenneth is a Troy Media thought leader. For interview requests, click here.


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