While it is relatively true that the time when hydrogen vehicles are going to be for sale in showrooms is probably about 10 years down the road (many of the major auto manufacturers are likely to accelerate that timetable), it won’t be “DECADES.” The blanket statement that hydrogen technologies are too far in the future is an incredibly inappropriate way to generalize a HUGE suite of different technologies—all fueled by hydrogen. There are technologies that can be used in portable products (TODAY), for stationary power (TODAY) and for specialized transportation uses like fork lifts in the world’s warehouses (TODAY).
Far too many people focus only on the light duty hydrogen vehicle. Sure they’re sexy–have you seen the latest generation of hydrogen vehicles? very cool–but that’s only part of the picture. Oh, and last time I checked, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle IS a full electric vehicle. Let’s not forget that.
Furthermore the statement, “and then something magic happens,” just shows the lack of vision and understanding. Hydrogen or any other alternative doesn’t need magic. They need R&D, steady funding to keep making progress, and they don’t need detractors like some of the statements above trying to slow that down. I don’t think we’re going to have one solution. We need many–all of the above, in fact. It’s also true that some of these technologies will be ready in the near-term and we should use them and the near-term and then as a bridge to the next generation of alternative technologies. But to overlook hydrogen technologies and to cast them as a group, only fit for future use is shortsighted and wrong. Hydrogen is out there today, it will be out there tomorrow and there are a lot of people working to keep the development going to make sure the longer-term technologies are ready for AFTER tomorrow.
My article was focused on the use of hydrogen for transportation, so I’m not addressing the use in other areas. I’ve been keeping up to date with hydrogen for the past several years. While I understand your points, battery powered electric cars are far closer to being practical than hydrogen fuel cell powered. So that is where I think the investment needs to go – battery tech needs merely pushed over the hump. In the second part of my article I will address the future, when hydrogen is more economically feasible.
PS-“and then something magic happens” is a paraphrase from a DOE assessment of hydrogen. Meaning that many revolutionary innovations would have to take place which drop costs orders of magnitude, and make hydrogen as ubiquitous as electricity.
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