3DN Building the Hydrogen Economy

Building the Hydrogen Economy

For many reasons: - global warming, acid rain, the depletion of oil supplies, energy independence – it would benefit humanity to build an energy system based on hydrogen. That can be done by changing the way we think about renewable energy.
Under the current system your local utility company figures out a “base” load of electricity that is required on a continuous basis. That load is produced usually by coal fired or nuclear plants that achieve efficiency through continuous operation. The utility then figures its peak load, meaning that electricity that will be necessary when everybody turns on their air conditioners. The difference between base load and peak load is covered by plants that can be turned on and turned off as needed such as pump storage hydro power and natural gas turbines.
The reason that utilities are reluctant to invest in solar, wind and wave power, (aside from the cost per kilowatt) is that they cannot control when the sun will shine or the wind will blow or how high the waves will be. And since they cannot control those factors, they have difficulty fitting those sources into their base load/peak load model.
I would like to suggest that a different model would make more sense. If we are going to move to a hydrogen economy, then what we need is an oversupply of electricity so that the excess capacity can be used to produce hydrogen. If we built a grid based on massively parallel renewable capacity, and mass produced standardized solar, wind and wave power plants that could be installed by individuals, businesses and communities, the cost per kilowatt would come down for those sources. Further, we could install capacity greatly in excess of peak load because, any electricity not needed for current use could be used to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen could then be used to replace petroleum in transportation.
I know that there are technical and economic barriers to this switch, but on a community level, any extra cost might be outweighed by the social benefit. I am interested in your thoughts.

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