You’ve likely heard about the potential for hydrogen to provide renewable, carbon-free energy. But how realistic are the possibilities? Where are things now on developing, or avoiding, them? Is it a panacea or a boondoggle, or something between?
First, what about all those color names for hydrogen? Green, blue, and gray are the main ones to remember: Green is by far the best for the climate.
For the big picture, you might read the Economist’s very thorough and readable discussion: Non-subscribers can sign up for a few free reads per month, and this one is worth the small effort to do so. “Creating the new hydrogen economy is a massive undertaking.” Along with a useful note that “Hydrogen is not a primary source of energy like oil or coal. It is best thought of as an energy carrier, akin to electricity, and as a means of storage, like a battery,” The Economist also offers a much shorter overview: “Hydrogen’s moment is here at last.“
Or you might read one or more of these very helpful stories:
- “Why the Swiss army knife of climate solutions is so controversial” (Grist)
- “The race to scale up green hydrogen to help solve some of the world’s dirtiest energy problems” (Inside Climate News)
- “Hydrogen industry must clean itself up before expanding into new uses, report finds” (Canary Media).
Lest you be overwhelmed by the reasons for skepticism, here are some stories that may lift your spirits:
- “Can a carbon-emitting iron ore tycoon save the planet?” (New York Times; again, for non-subscribers, this portrait of a rich and ambitious entrepreneur is worth using one of your monthly free reads)
- “Our hydrogen-powered future is unfolding at the edge of the world” (Reasons to be Cheerful, about the Orkney Islands)
- Chris Goodall’s generally quite encouraging Carbon Commentary Newsletter, which regularly offers notes about such things as new hydrogen-powered operations such as a bus system in Illinois and a Budweiser plant in Wales. Goodall also has a blog, in which he discusses, for instance, using off-shore wind turbines to make green hydrogen.
This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.