Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hydrogen Could Replace Fossil Fuels

The surplus electricity from solar and wind power gives hydrogen the chance to replace oil and gas.

From China – the hydrogen-powered bike. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons) Click to Enlarge.
Hydrogen is the least talked-about renewable energy but has the greatest potential to replace fossil fuels, both to heat homes and to provide fuel for road transport.

The possibility of using hydrogen has been known about for generations, but only in the last two years has it become both practical and financially viable to see it as a large-scale competitor to both gas and oil.  Networks of hydrogen filling stations are now being opened in Europe and parts of the US.

Batteries for road transport have attracted most of the recent publicity around renewables and have become the focus of many governments with targets for switching away from [gas] and diesel, particularly in cities with air pollution problems.

But hydrogen has even greater potential because its only emissions are pure water and warm air.

Storage potential
What has made hydrogen so attractive is that it can use surplus renewable electricity from wind and solar farms by using electrolyzers to produce hydrogen.  This is a process of passing an electric current through water and converting it into oxygen and hydrogen.  The hydrogen can then be stored.

The highly combustible gas can be used as a fuel to drive cars, trucks, and trains, be fed into gas pipelines along with natural gas to heat homes, or simply burned to produce electricity when power demand is high.

Hydrogen also solves a problem for the renewable energy industry – surplus production when demand is low.  The large-scale introduction of both wind and solar power has meant that increasingly, when the wind blows and the sun shines and demand for electricity is low, there is no use for the power.

However, if this surplus power is diverted to produce hydrogen that can be stored, then the cost of the valuable gas produced is low.  The hydrogen can then be used as a power source when demand is great and sold at a much higher price than the cost of production.

Read more at Hydrogen Could See Off Fossil Fuels

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