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hydrogen decarbonise

Climate change: can hydrogen help decarbonise the world?

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According to the latest report by the World Bank, without action, climate change could force over 100 million people who are not equipped to cope with rising sea levels and weather variances into poverty by 2030. Impeccably timed research, given that the United Nations Climate Conference takes place in Paris at the end of the month.

With all world leaders who are ready and willing to discuss what we, as a collective, can do in the fight against climate change in one place, now is as good a time as any to discuss and construct the solution!

So in an era of global warming where the word’s economies are built around easily accessible fossil fuels, there have been many clean energy sources that have been trialled and errored – but what is the future for renewables?

The next renewable revolution lies with hydrogen; the most abundant element in the entire universe. It’s an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil and biofuels because when you burn it, the only waste product is water and it will dramatically reduce our dependence on imported fuels, therefore improving our energy security.

These innovations are beginning to take off; Japanese car manufacturers like Toyota and Nissan believe that they have made a hydrogen fuel cell that is commercially viable and efficient. So viable and efficient, in fact, that Toyota’s fuel cell electric vehicle is in the introduction stages of its launch. These vehicles can be refuelled in a matter of minutes, compared to the time in which it takes to recharge an electric vehicle.

But is it as environmentally friendly as we think?

By burning fuels to produce hydrogen, it inevitably emits greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. There is possibility to control for this, however, by the process of electrolysis. This is also a much more cost effective solution as it can be produced on site, diminishing distribution costs and contributing more to the economy by creating more jobs. Earlier this year, the UK’s largest hydrogen production and bus refuelling station was opened with embedded electrolysers.

As good as it may seem, is the world ready to take on hydrogen and can it really decarbonise our atmosphere?

Alex Hart from the Carbon Trust believes that vehicles will be fuelled differently in the future, but is less clear on what the dominant technology in renewable energy will be.  He is, however, certain of one thing; “we will decarbonise our world – we have to.”


1 Response

  1. I have posted similar thoughts on Linkedin and other places. Hydrogen based motive power seems the obvious solution if you take a root cause analysis of the problem. Many say that the problem with Hydrogen is the cost of electrolysis, but this would come from renewable or nuclear power sources. In this way, the cost of Hinkley point C could be recouped and the standard combustion engine only needs a small modification to the carburettor to run off Hydrogen.

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