Clean Power solar energy hydrogen farm

Published on January 29th, 2016 | by Tina Casey

124

Solar Energy Fuels HyperSolar’s Hydrogen Dream

January 29th, 2016 by  

Here’s more good news for fuel cell electric vehicle fans: the California company HyperSolar, which has been developing a system for producing hydrogen with an assist from solar energy, has announced a new tweak that will help bump down the cost of its process. If all goes well the result will be a competitive price for hydrogen fuel with which to fuel up your new FCEV.

solar energy hydrogen farm

Solar Energy For Renewable Hydrogen

CleanTechnica first took note of HyperSolar back in 2011, when it patented a process for making renewable hydrogen with solar energy.

In 2012 we described the company’s vision for large scale solar farms that mimic photosynthesis  and “split” water to produce hydrogen instead of veggies, but the company dropped off our radar after that. We should have been paying more attention because a lot has happened since then.

Among the recent developments, earlier this month HyperSolar renewed its sponsored solar powered hydrogen production research program with the University of California – Santa Barbara for another six months.

That follows on the heels of an announcement last December, in which the company noted some progress in developing a new solar powered water-splitting catalyst. The new catalyst eliminates the need for more expensive materials — namely, platinum — which is a key factor in the cost of solar powered hydrogen production.

In its latest announcement, HyperSolar reports that test results have been promising:

Test results indicate that this low cost catalyst will reduce overall voltage requirements, significantly increase photocurrents, improve hydrogen production efficiency, and further reduce the cost of the Company’s hydrogen production process.

About That Catalyst…

HyperSolar’s press materials are a bit thin on the details about that new catalyst, except to note that it was developed by Syed Mubeen Hussaini of the University of Iowa. We took a little stroll through the Intertubes to find out more so this is just a wild guess, but that could be the one described in a study published last year by the Electrochemical Society, authored with fellow University of Iowa researchers Wei Cheng and Alan M. Rassoolkhani under the title “Low-Cost Synthetic Routes for Fabricating Tandem/Multi-Junction Photoelectrochemical Devices.

In the study, the authors note the efficiency limitations of water-splitting catalysts based on a single material. The use of combinations of materials (aka multi-junction) boosts efficiency, but results in an overly complex, expensive device.

The solution they propose is a photoelectrochemical device that uses a low cost process to deposit an inexpensive, efficient metal oxide/sulfide onto a conventional silicon solar cell. The metal acts as an anode, and the solar cell itself acts as a cathode.

Last fall HyperSolar renewed its research relationship with the University of Iowa to April 2016, so it looks like additional improvements are expected. Here’s the company’s rundown on the progress with both research partners as of last fall:

The Company announced in September 2015 that it had surpassed 1.5 Volts (V), the practical voltage needed to effectively split water molecules to produce hydrogen in real world systems…The collaboration between the two Universities led to the rapid development of the technology, as the Company surpassed both the theoretical minimum (1.23 V) then the recent 1.55 V breakthrough, within one year.

About Those Fuel Cell EVs

CleanTechnica has generally given hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles the stinkeye for a number of reasons, including the use of fossil natural gas to produce hydrogen fuel. Deploying solar energy to generate renewable hydrogen from water leaps over that hurdle, though it does raise the potential for water scarcity issues.

On the other hand, potable water is not necessarily an issue for renewable hydrogen. HyperSolar is among a number of companies and research institutions that are developing solar-powered processes that can run efficiently on non-potable water, including water drawn directly from rivers and other natural sources as well as wastewater from industrial operations.

Seawater is another potential source of hydrogen. Last year, for example, we noticed the US Navy’s interest in a transportable system that could be used to produce fuel on the go. The primary purpose is to capture carbon dioxide from seawater and convert it to a usable carbon-based fuel, but the contraption also produces hydrogen as a byproduct.

As for fuel cell EVs, Toyota is a big fan, and the company has been exploring the “hydrogen economy” concept in Japan. Toyota has already rolled out its Mirai FCEV in California, thought there appears to be a glitch (we’re thinking a temporary one) in terms of hydrogen fuel station availability

In addition, Switzerland is among several countries developing large scale power-to-gas systems that leverage renewable energy to produce hydrogen, and that deploy existing natural gas pipelines and storage facilities to distribute hydrogen.

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Image: via Hypersolar.

 
 
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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Joe Viocoe

    Yet more and more grid storage projects are using batteries in the real world… Hydrogen storage hasn’t gotten off the ground and is limited to these experiments.

    • Erik Alapää

      Yet, it is obvious that for large energy storage, batteries are orders of magnitude from being useful (not talking about flow batteries). Batteries are more of a short-time ‘cache’

      • Joe Viocoe

        Yet larger and larger projects are being launched.

  • Bert

    So is HyperSolar just trying to coming an electrolyzer and a solar panel into one unit, or are they using a different process than electrolysis? These recent articles are never clear enough on that point. Do any of you know?

    • Andrew

      Amazing how the very last comment to this thread was actually a question about the companies tech rather than the spewing of mental diarrhea about clean tech that came first:) Bert, Hypersolar is combining a solar panel with a chemical catalyast. It eliminates the electrolyzer supposedly (although electrolysis, the splitting of water, still occurs). The catalyst will lower the reaction energy needed to split water into H2 gas, so it is feasible to use a single solar cell, which is not feasible without the catalyst given the voltages needed for electrolysis. In my mind, this standalone energy generator has an incredible potential for disruption and energy transformation given that it can generate hydrogen on-site without transmission required. Think houses and refueling stations or even cars themselves. As people rightly have pointed out, hydrogen is indeed an energy storage medium, but the real crux of Hypersolar’s technology is in the catalyst, which aid’s the use of solar to create hydrogen in a much more efficient way.

  • Bob_Wallace

    “we need a tremendous amount of long-term storage — up to 70 terawatt-hours,” according to Ebert. “That can only be done with hydrogen and methane.”

    From wiki –

    Pumped storage is the largest-capacity form of grid energy storage available, and, as of March 2012, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) reports that PSH accounts for more than 99% of bulk production capacity worldwide, representing around 127 GW, with storage capacity at 740 TWh.

    I don’t even have to take my shoes off to figure out that 740 is a lot larger than 70.

    It’s not hydrogen bashing. It’s reality relating. Hydrogen is a very poor energy storage technology. Might be interesting to calculate the volume of hydrogen it would take to store even 70 TWh of energy.

    • Erik Alapää

      Yes, pumped hydro has some installed base. But I do not see it as the world’s energy future. You keep asserting that you dislike hydrogen, but list few actual reasons. The Honda FCV has approx 150 litres of storage, and its range beats out all battery cars except the ridiculous Teslas, which are cars for millioneers. Heavy, expensive batteries are not the future.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Pumped hydro is not energy. It’s energy storage. Hydrogen is also a storage technology.

        I don’t dislike hydrogen. I’m spent time looking at hydrogen as a storage medium and I understand how it just isn’t the best option.

        First, it takes energy to break the H2O bond in order to free up the hydrogen. If you start out with 100 kWh of electricity and use it for electrolysis you use up about 30% of the energy. Then compressing to hydrogen another 5% of the 100 kWh is used. We’re down to about 65 kWh.

        Fuel cells are inefficient. Forty to sixty percent of the remaining 60 kWh is going to be lost as waste heat. We’re now down to about 30 kWh out of the original 100 kWh.

        That is miserable efficiency.

        Redox flow batteries have efficiencies in the 65% to 75% range. Pump-up hydro efficiency runs from 70% to 85%. Both better than 2x better than hydrogen.

        Then there’s the storage problem. Hydrogen is the smallest atom. It can escape through a the smallest of holes. It’s not energy dense in terms of volume. Storing hydrogen requires pressure tanks which are not cheap.

        The chemicals for flow batteries can be stored in inexpensive non-pressurized tanks. The water for PuHS is stored in holes in the ground.

        What I’ve read is that it costs Toyota over $100,000 to build each Mirai and they sell them for about $60k, taking a loss on each. The least expensive Tesla sells for $75k with includes approximately $15k in profits.

        The Tesla S is a luxury car. The Toyota Mirai is not a luxury car.

        Then consider operation cost. Toyota has stated that fueling their FCEV costs 17 cents per mile. They further stated that the price might eventually drop to 10 cents per mile. A Tesla charging with 12 cents/kWh electricity costs about 4 cents per mile.

        Heavy expensive batteries are not the future. The price of batteries is rapidly dropping. Only a few years ago EV batteries cost as much as $1,000/kWh. In October 2014 Tesla was paying Panasonic $180/kWh. GM will be paying LG Chem $145/kWh for their batteries. Tesla’s cost for batteries when the Gigafactory is running is expected to be around $130/kWh. By 2020 the cost of batteries should be down to about $100/kwh.

        Battery capacity has increased on average 7% per year. If that continues then ten years from now EV batteries will weigh half of what they now weigh.

        Cheaper and lighter batteries are the future.

        • Erik Alapää

          First, hydrogen fuel cells will be paired with a small, light, cheap, plug-in charged battery that takes care of city driving, e.g. 70% of driven distance will be as efficient as a pure battery car.

          Most importantly, I just do not believe batteries will be cheap, light and environmentally friendly anytime soon, at least not if you want large storage capacity. Batteries have existed for 100 years, most of that time as a mass-market product, and are still not good. Fuel cell costs are coming down extremely quickly, look at Toyotas results. If batteries had gotten 7% more capacity each year, capacity would have doubled every 10 years, and we would have seen 10 doublings in capacity over 100 years, i.e. 1000 times more capacity. But of course we have not. Fuel cells are the future.

          • Bob_Wallace

            When you say “will be” you’re getting out ahead of the data. Use “might be”.

            A hydrogen fuel cell range extender? Why would anyone pay more for a PHEV with a fuel cell rather than a less expensive ICE? And more for fuel?
            You’re free to believe what you wish about batteries. I gave you information on cost and capacity which apparently you chose to wave away. If you aren’t aware of how much batteries have changed over the last decade then you haven’t been paying attention.

            I’m just not seeing any sense in spending energy carrying on a discussion with someone who ignores facts.

          • Erik Alapää

            First, an ICE hybrid is obviously just a stopgap solution, double drive trains and fossil fuels cannot be used for trucks and cars for a world with +10 billion people.

            Obviosly, batteries have become better, but fuel cells are getting better and cheaper faster than batteries OR at least their potential for scalability (in range) and cost reduction and other parameters are far greater than batteries.

            I think there is a place for all 3 of normal batteries, flow batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. Normal batteries have good efficiency, flow batteries are very heavy (low energy density) but can store large amounts of energy, and fuel cells have many advantages, such as weight, fast fueling, being usable for very heavy vehicles etc. It all just comes down to engineering tradeoffs for the individual applications.

            It is obvious that if you want a car that can be better than a gasoline or diesel car at almost everything, a pure BEV is not acceptable, you need a fuel-cell-battery-plugin hybrid.

            And I do not like your snide tone. I am not a battery hugger like 80% of the Tesla-indoctrinated people on the forums. To use scientific approach you need to read about advances in both the battery ‘camp’ and the hydrogen ‘camp’, and try to keep an open mind.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Erik, what is “obvious” to you is bullshit to those who aren’t wearing hydrogen blinders.

          • Erik Alapää

            Again with the snide tone. If H2 plug-in hybrids and pure BEVs get a fair chance in the marketplace, we will see in 10-20 years from now who was right. I know those wearing Tesla/battery blinders want all US government subsidies going to battery/charger infrastructure, but I sincerely hope that will not happen.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s not snide. That’s something much stronger.

            Do you see any company talking about building a fuel cell PHEV?

            No? Wonder why?

            Now, please don’t waste my time. If you have numbers that prove that hydrogen is a workable solution then bring them. If you just want to parrot stuff you’ve read but don’t understand then please spend some time learning.

          • Erik Alapää

            Don’t waste my time with your arrogant, opinionated propaganda. Time will tell if your beloved batteries are the solution for the all of the world’s cars and heavy trucks. I am convinced batteries will never be good enough.

            Why do you think Toyota, Hyundai and Honda are already producing hydrogen fuel cell cars? And most of the other large car manufacturers in the world are following suit. Plugin hydrogen hybrids are the obvious solution.

            You obviously cannot discuss technology without resorting to arrogant personal attacks. End of my debate with you.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Bye….

          • Joe Viocoe

            The 8% was more related to general improvements, which has more often been cost reduction. It never was for strict density.

            Secondly, it was never expected to be a linear improvement, but an average taken over a longer period.

            Thirdly, it was always assumed economies of scale, which only begun 5 years ago.

            Meanwhile, fuel cells are a HEAVILY SUBSIDIZED $57,000. And won’t be getting better for a long while.

          • Erik Alapää

            Many serious corporations believe batteries are not sufficient for cars, and even less so for heavy trucks. And Tesla:ites should not talk about subsidies, Elon Musk has gotten exceptional amounts of US govt funding for his pet projects.

            Fuel cells are only in the beginning of commercialisation. I belive we will need both batteries and fuel cells, they are complementary tech with radically different strengths and weaknesses.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Kodak was a serious company.
            Kodak did not believe in digital photography.
            Kodak failed.

            FCEV are eligible for subsidies just like EVs.

            If a major car manufacturer really believed in H2 FCEVs wouldn’t you expect to see them installing H2 fueling stations so that their cars could be driven away from home?

            It doesn’t look to me that any company believes in FCEVs. More like they’re building a few in order to meet state emission standards and pick up some ZEV credits.

          • Erik Alapää

            I do not think Kodak’s refusal to go digital can be compared to state-of-the art fuel cell vehicles.

            One key issue is fueling stations, if they are built, then MAYBE fuel cells get a fair chance to crush pure battery solutions. And I do believe that both Tesla and the fuel cell car companies should get federal and state subsidies in the US and the European union. That would be wise if we ever want to get rid of the fossil fuel dependency in the transportation industry.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Kodak picked the wrong horse and lost the race. Kodak was taken out back and shot. Their horse died a natural death.

            Kodak basically invented digital photography. Kodak blew it big time.

            As for fueling stations, if anyone actually believed in H2 FCEVs don’t you think we’d see private money stepping in and setting up a hydrogen highway to somewhere? Toyota suspended sales on their Mirai because Toyota didn’t believe enough to build a dozen or so stations around SoCal.

            FCEVs get federal subsidies. California taxpayers have build many of nine public hydrogen fueling stations. Tesla built their own Supercharger network.

            Here’s what I see. I see you starting with the belief that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are the solution.

            You start there and then wave away any facts that challenge your belief. You cook up ways that H2 FCEVs might survive, but your ways don’t look very solid. Just hopes.

            Why don’t you start with a clean sheet of paper. Make a list of advantages and disadvantages for both EVs and FCEVs. Be as objective as you possibly can. If you’re not sure about the facts then ask questions. Go through that exercise and then form your opinion.

      • Joe Viocoe

        The fact that you think Tesla cars are for millionaires…. Shows that you lack the math skills to be taken seriously.

        • Erik Alapää

          A millionaire in $ is not the same as in € or SEK (my country’s currency)… And I would bet I know at least 3X more math than you do.

          • Bob_Wallace

            This is a US site. If you meant miljonprogrammet then that’s the word you should have used.

            The math needed is not advanced. What one needs is facts, not complex mathematics. Get some facts please.

          • Erik Alapää

            If you find the word ‘millionaire’ ambiguous, just substitute ‘rich people’.

            Here is a fact: Hydrogen and batteries have different strengths and weaknesses, and will be used for different purposes. Do you honestly believe that pure battery vehicles can replace all those heavy trucks?

            Hydrogen has MUCH more energy per kg and batteries, and around 3 times more energy per kg than e.g. kerosene. The volume (at 700 bar?) is around 4 times that of kerosene for same amount of energy. Batteries cannot even compete.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Of course the Model S was intended for rich people. Selling a luxury EV to people who could afford to pay over $70k for a new car provided the increase in battery consumption needed to drive larger scale battery production and cost decreases.

            Hydrogen and batteries do have different strengths and weaknesses. Hydrogen has the advantage of being able to be transferred from one container to another fairly rapidly. Batteries own the other advantages.

            Heavy trucks run on batteries? Absolutely. Using 5 or 6 “Tesla S battery packs” of batteries would allow us to drive a loaded 18-wheeler about 200 miles right now. The battery pack could be swapped out in about 3 minutes and recharged in less than the time it takes to drive 200 miles.

            Hydrogen is good in terms of energy per weight. But it sucks in terms of energy per volume. You could super compress it, even liquify it in order to reduce the volume but doing so would use up a lot more of the incoming energy, making hydrogen an even crappier energy storage method.

            Batteries are competing. The Tesla S is about 14% heavier than the Toyota Mirai yet is about 23% larger. Range is roughly equal. The cost of EVs will drop much faster than the cost of FCEVs. Both require volume production to reach ICEV parity and EVs have a huge head start.

            Hydrogen FCEVs have only that one small advantage over EVs. They fill faster than an EV can charge. That advantage comes into play only on long drive days which are few for most drivers. Someone in a FCEV will arrive a few minutes sooner than someone driving an EV. But that FCEV driver will spend 10 to 12 hours a year filling up for their normal driving while the EV driver will simply plug in when they park.

          • Erik Alapää

            For heavy trucks, battery swapping or waiting ‘less than the time it takes to drive 200 miles’ is not practical. And 5 or 6 Tesla battery packs is a lot of weight. FCEVs evolve very rapidly, Toyota has reduced cost a factor 10 in a short period, and the new Honda is even lighter and more elegant than the Mirai – 70 kg 100 kW fuel cell, and all in engine compartment, including tanks, if I recall correctly. And plug-in charging the FCEV battery is entirely feasible, all FCEVs will have a small, light, cheap battery, e.g. for absorbing breaking energy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “For heavy trucks, battery swapping or waiting ‘less than the time it takes to drive 200 miles’ is not practical. And 5 or 6 Tesla battery packs is a lot of weight.”


            Attention World!
            Erik hath spoken!!

            Erik has pulled an opinion out of his nether region along with no supporting facts and told us the future. (Erik also posted a made up quote if that interests anyone.)

            Fuel cells may have evolved. Fuel cells may evolve more. But the problem with H2 FCEVs is not so much the fuel cell but the cost of the H2.

            “In two days, we stopped nine times at seven locations to draw hydrogen from four working pumps, never experiencing range anxiety. Over 400 miles we averaged 56 miles per kilogram of hydrogen, or 57 MPGe, costing us roughly $0.25 per mile—nearly four times the cost of driving a Toyota Camry hybrid. ”

            http://www.caranddriver.com/toyota/mirai

            Toyota has stated that they think the cost of refilling can come down to 10 cents per mile eventually. Compare that to 4 cents per mile for an EV running on 12 c/kWh electricity.

          • Erik Alapää

            WTH are you talking about, I quoted your post directly, no made-up quotes here. Your style of debate is simply not serious. The day I see many battery-swapping 18-wheelers or drivers waitin for hours, things will be different.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” waiting ‘less than the time it takes to drive 200 miles’ ”

            I did not say anything about trucks waiting to recharge. I said that the pulled battery pack could be recharged in less than the time it takes to drive 200 miles.

            Try reading more carefully. And if you wish to quote someone directly then copy and paste. Don’t just casually toss down some words.

          • Erik Alapää

            The quote I did was word-by-word. And OK, if you mean to not wait, and combine battery swapping with charging while drivers drive, OK. But I still think that is a huge downgrade from today’s diesel trucks. Hydrogen, on the other hand, works very similarly to diesel.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” The battery pack could be swapped out in about 3 minutes and recharged in less than the time it takes to drive 200 miles.

            “For heavy trucks, battery swapping or waiting ‘less than the time it takes to drive 200 miles’ is not practical.”

            Yep, that’s word-by-word. In Bizarroland.

          • Erik Alapää

            Read carefully, note where the quote marks are.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Pathetic.

            Out of context use of words.

          • Erik Alapää

            So now you admit my quote was correct, albeit ‘too short’? Get over it. And focus on thinking about the hydrogen-powered 18-wheelers that will blow the socks off your over-heavy battery-powered 18-wheeler toys. 😉

          • Bob_Wallace

            You misrepresented what I said. Don’t try pulling that sort of stuff here.
            Give us the math for hydrogen powered 18-wheelers.

            And explain why the Tesla S is 23% larger than the Toyota Mirai but only 14% heavier. You need to do that in order to explain why battery powered vehicles are over-heavy.

          • Erik Alapää

            Who made you the site police? You LOUDLY accused me of not quoting exactly, so if you want to nit-pick, you also were wrong. From what I know, Tesla batteries are 400-600 kg, while Honda FCV fuel cell plus tanks are around 170 kg, and evolving quickly. As I have said before, time will tell which technology evolves quicker. Two bad factors for hydrogen is that Elon Musk owns the media and forum hype, and the fueling network needs to be built.

            Here is some math: to double the range/energy, you need to add only 5 kg more hydrogen, and maybe 100 kg more tank weight. To double the Tesla batterie’s range or energy, you need another 400-600 kg of batteries. This is one reason why hydrogen scales better for heavy vehicles.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Battery capacity continues to increase which, in turn, lowers battery weight. Car weight matters less for highway range which is the important metric for EV acceptance. Highway range and cost.

            The bad factors for hydrogen are lack of fueling infrastructure, lack of adequate market demand needed to bring down vehicle price and cost of hydrogen.

            You could double the range of a FCEV by adding more tankage but you’d have to find some place to put it.

            http://www.chicagoautoshow.com/assets/1/7/Toyota-Mirai-sled.jpg

          • Erik Alapää

            Yes, I agree that without increasing pressure, the fuel tank of an normal FCEV car cannot be much larger. But do you understand the scaling argument, for e.g. heavier cars and 18-wheeler trucks, or work vehicles like mining trucks and the like?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes. And I’m tired of this discussion. I’ve had it too many times.

            You continue to believe what you want to believe.

            Have a nice day.

          • Erik Alapää

            Here is some more math for you: Assume you want 8 times more energy in your battery or your on-board hydrogen.
            Assume a Tesla battery pack weighs 400-600 kg. The Honda 100 kW fuel cell and tanks for ~5kg hydrogen is around 170 kg together.

            If we assume that a larger pressure tank at same pressure has equal thickness, then the tank hull weight scales as a the square of tank linear dimensions (surface area scales as the square), while volume scales as the cube of linear dimensions. So, tank weight only increases to 400 kg if you double the linear dimension, and tank volume becomes 8 times bigger. For the batteries, you have linear scaling, so 8 times more energy means ~8×500 kg, i.e. 4000 kg. So this is one explanation of why hydrogen scales better to big vehicles. Even if you add more fuel cells for higher peak power output, hydrogen rules.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No need for 8x more batteries. Or hydrogen. A 250 mile range is plenty.
            If you want to add a bunch of hydrogen tanks to a big rig then you’re going to have to deal with the cost of hydrogen and you’ll be facing a fail.

          • Erik Alapää

            Cost of hydrogen? Hydrogen is just a prototype fuel, but is already as cheap as gasoline in some places. As a big rig driver if he wants 400 kg of hydrogen tanks or 4000 kg of expensive batteries.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    I finished the first paragraph and then thought “this must be another Tina article”. Sure enough…

    Then I skipped to the comment section to see how many people she got to respond.

  • All solar energy schemes will fail because of the basic, unchangeable mathematics of the situation. Solar energy is way too diffuse, weak, and is inherently intermittent. Solar power only exists because of government subsidies and mandates. If you subtract government’s foolish thug like tactics to promote a bad idea, the bad idea dies on the vine. We don’t need solar power schemes anyway because we have Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) and simplified hot fusion technology on the horizon. Google *The Renewable Energy Disaster* for scientific details. Only HIGH ENERGY DENSITY continuous and reliable energy schemes will help. Biofuels, wind, solar, wave, etc. will all die and good riddance. They have given us nothing but high food costs, high energy costs, even more environmental destruction, bigger budget deficits, and higher unemployment.

    • Frank

      Wind and solar are cheap, and cause relatively few problems, and they are ready for deployment now. You haven’t given a good reason to care about diffuse. When it comes to LENR or fusion, wake me up when somebody has a full size plant I can read about.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Here’s a dose of reality. While sunshine is not as energy dense as uranium or another nuclear fuel it costs far, far less to turn the energy from the Sun into electricity.

      Calculate the cost of electricity That is the math that matters.

      Someday, perhaps, someone will bring a better nuclear technology into operation. That day is likely decades away if it does occur. In other words, there is no affordable nuclear technology. We have to solve today’s problems with the technologies we have not with the technologies we might have 20 years from now.

      • Solar energy currently provides less than 1% of US electricity even after decades of hype and costly promotion under government force. That is because solar is so incredibly expensive and unreliable. Only hydroelectric power is useful for large scale energy production. Geothermal is so limited in usefulness it makes no dent in our energy needs. Right now, natural gas is the lowest cost fuel for new plant construction. Fission nuclear is cheaper than solar and wind, and it is reliable, but it needs to be phased out for obvious reasons. Right now we have LENR reactors producing energy as test devices. The engineering work to turn them into reliable products you can buy will take time, but not that long. We need to end all energy subsidies and mandates and let the market decide the winners and losers. I believe LENR and simplified hot fusion will be the winners. We already know wind and solar are losers because nobody wants them without subsidies and mandates. On a level playing field, they lose because of their cost and unreliability.

        • Joseph Dubeau

          Wind blows your right wing fasle cost estimates out the window. Fact, wind is cheaper than any fossil fuel!
          Fission nuclear has never once been cheap, cheaper, or substainable without Government support.

          Just ask the Japanese how expense Fukushima disaster cost.

          • Google my YouTube videos, *Windmills Kill Birds* and *The Global Biofuel Disaster*. This debate has nothing to do with Right vs. Left, it has to do with honesty vs. dishonesty. The renewable energy fad has a very high body count. LENR is not radioactive, nontoxic, and is made with recyclable materials. Simplified hot fusion is very clean, but not quite as clean as LENR. Which technology will produce the cheapest electricity will only be determined when they hit the marketplace. Both will be far cheaper than fission nuclear reactors because radioactive materials increase costs. In this age of terrorism, fission nuclear reactors are not politically viable. We need energy sources that are cheap, reliable, safe, clean, and that the majority of people will support. The only downside to LENR are the many military applications. If you can build a LENR powered 747 that can fly for a year without refueling, think of what that means for military jet aircraft. Everyone wants a car they can drive a full year without refueling and that has no exhaust whatsoever. That is coming relatively soon judged by historic standards. Fossil fuels are on their way out, but let the marketplace drop them naturally as better low cost energy sources replace them.

          • Bob_Wallace

            No more FUD.

          • Religious intolerance comes in many forms.

        • Bob_Wallace

          You are free to believe what you wish but you are not free to make up stuff and call it facts.

          Solar is not expensive, it is moving into second place on the list of least expensive ways to generate electricity in the US.

          “Fission nuclear is cheaper than solar and wind….”

          This is an outright falsehood. New nuclear in the US is running from 13 cents to 19 cents per kWh. Plus subsidies. Unsubsidized wind in the US is under 4 cents. Unsubsidized solar is about 6 cents.

          Solar is now over 1% once one includes end-user solar. Solar is still a small percentage of all US electricity generation but one has to put that into the context of how few years there has been any sort of a serious solar program. Solar is growing at exponential rates, we’ll see the percentage growing greatly as we go forward. Dropping costs are driving that uptake.

          You are suggesting we power our grids with unicorns, with something that has not been discovered. If you want to dream, then dream. But do it somewhere else please.

          • How much is the cost of solar power at night? How much is the cost of wind power when the wind does not blow? The overall cost of integrating inherently unreliable and intermittent wind and solar into the grid is vastly more expensive than using continuous, reliable nuclear power. Nuclear power has an average CAPACITY FACTOR of 90%. As I previously stated, solar panels installed in Germany have a average capacity factor of under 10%. Is that a good investment? You always have to use fossil fuels to backup wind and solar. There is no net economic or environmental gain from forcing wind and solar on people. Wind and solar dramatically increase the cost of electricity, and that is why my local power company asked me in a phone survey if I would be willing to pay more money for them to use solar and more wind power to be “green”. I said no! I love my photovoltaic pocket calculator. That is using the right tool for the right job. Windmills are fine for pumping water on a farm, not for producing electricity. Google my YouTube video, *Windmills Kill Birds* for all the other unpleasant facts about the windmill craze. We need real solutions like LENR, not fad solutions that don’t work. By most estimates, LENR will cost between .5 to 3 cents per kilowatt hour at most, with 1.5 cents being my personal estimate, which is conservative. LENR reactors will run 7-24-365 as will simplified hot fusion. If we try to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar we will all starve to death. FOOD = ENERGY High cost energy = high cost food. Biofuels have already killed more people than all wars and acts of terrorism over the last 20 years because they raise the cost of fertilizer, farmland, and food. Wind and solar are not as evil, but they are still highly negative to our economy and our ecology.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            “You always have to use fossil fuels to backup wind and solar.” – false.
            In Texas, the rate has been negative on windy nights.
            In Germany, the rate has gone negative on sunny days.

            ” By most estimates, LENR will cost between .5 to 3 cents per kilowatt hour at most, with 1.5 cents being my personal estimate, which is conservative.” -false

            The overunity folks have far better chance of succeeding then you and your arm chair physicists.
            I’ll give you a clue, no gamma rays detected, no fusion occurring. Cold fusion doesn’t work.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “The overall cost of integrating inherently unreliable and intermittent wind and solar into the grid is vastly more expensive than using continuous, reliable nuclear power. ”

            No, that is incorrect. We could power the US with only wind and solar, no storage, for less than 10 cents per kWh. All new nuclear in the US runs more than 10c/kWh.

            http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2016/012516-rapid-affordable-energy-transformation-possible.html

            Capacity factor is one of the elements which determine the cost of electricity. Nuclear does have a high CF but it also has such a high installed cost that the electricity produced is too expensive to consider

            ” You always have to use fossil fuels to backup wind and solar. ”

            Ignorant statement.

            “There is no net economic or environmental gain from forcing wind and solar on people. Wind and solar dramatically increase the cost of electricity,”

            The wholesale cost of electricity has been dropping in Germany as they add more wind and solar and close nuclear and coal plants.

            No more of this LENR stuff. Quit. It’s speculation and way off topic.

      • One-Of-A-Kind

        Bob: here’s a dose of reality.

        The smallest reactor in the US is in Fort Calhoun, and has a generating capacity 479 MW… That’s around the clock output which means over 11 GWh in a given 24 hour period.

        Most reactors are closer to around 1 GW in generating capacity, with some of them over 1 GW.

        How can you compare solar to this kind of energy production, and have a fair comparison? Where on Earth do we have anything CLOSE to that size of generation, if solar costs “far, far less” to turn into energy?

        • Joseph Dubeau

          “How can you compare solar to this kind of energy production, and have a fair comparison? ”
          They are cheaper to build and don’t have hire
          Homer Simpson.

          “The Gansu Wind Farm Project (also called Jiuquan Wind Power Base) is a group of large wind farms under construction in western Gansu province in China (40.2°N 96.9°E 40.6°N 96.9°E, 40.23°N 97.13°E).

          The project is divided to multiple phases. The first 3,800 MW phase consists of eighteen 200 MW wind farms and two 100 MW wind farms. The second 8,000 MW phase will consist of forty 200 MW wind farms. The planned capacity is 5,160 MW by 2010, 12,710 MW by 2015 and 20,000 MW in 2020.[3] The entire project may become the world’s largest wind power producer when it is fully completed.”

          20,000 MW = 20 GW. 20 times Fort Calhoun.
          Imagine that.

        • Joseph Dubeau

          Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC), also known as Mojave Wind Farm, is the second largest onshore wind energy project in the world.The Alta Wind Energy Center is a wind farm located in Tehachapi Pass of the Tehachapi Mountains, in Kern County, California. As of 2013, it is the largest wind farm in the United States,[1] with a combined installed capacity of 1,547 MW.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Reality is that solar and wind are growing. Nuclear is not.

          (Picking Fort Calhoun might have been a bad move. You do realize how long Calhoun was offline, do you not?)

          Over the last 10 years the amount of electricity generated in the US using nuclear has remained about level. Solar has risen from 550 thousand MWh to 17,691 thousand MWh, most in the last two years.

          http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_01

          Will the trends continue? Most likely nuclear will drop, we’re closing reactors and not building rapidly enough to keep up. The increasing cost of nuclear means that it is unlikely we’ll see any more startups in the US.

          The cost of utility solar has been dropping around 17% for the last few years. As prices drop expect installation rates to increase.

        • Joe Viocoe

          The flaw in your thinking is assuming power generation must be centralized like our old paradigm.

  • George Kafantaris

    Let us assume for a moment that half the cars on the road are battery cars needing to be charged from the grid. Except that there is no such grid that can charge these many cars before blowing transformers left and right. But hydrogen cars — like gasoline cars — store their energy in the fuel molecules themselves and do not need to transfer huge amounts of raw power over wires. This is what makes hydrogen the sensible choice for transportation — and also what makes the search for the ideal battery foolish.
    Yet this point was missed by our former Energy Secretary, Steve Chu. From the get go he turned his back on hydrogen and continued to do so for the next five years on the job. Now we find ourselves with all of our country’s energy eggs in the battery car basket and need to jump-start hydrogen investment just to catch up.

    • Bob_Wallace

      ” According to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL’s) “Impacts Assessment of PHEVs on Electric Utilities and Regional U.S. Power Grids,” the maximum technical upper limit of EV market penetration based on today’s existing underutilized electricity infrastructure–considering both generation and regional T&D congestion–is approximately 75 percent of the electricity needs of the light-duty fleet. Even if charging is limited to between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., idle capacity can support 43 percent of existing light-duty auto stock.

      http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/project_ev_grid_integration.html

      ​Yes, there may be a need to swap out some neighborhood transformers earlier than would have otherwise have been required as they may not be allowed to cool down overnight. But we’re in the process of replacing those old tubs with solid state gear anyway.

      Utilities will be able to determine which transformers might be under strain by watching changes in late night demand.

      Hydrogen is very unlikely to be a player at any significant level. It’s an inefficient storage method.​

    • just_jim

      You are criticizing EVs because the infrastructure isn’t there to accommodate a 50% EV penetration. What percent fuel cell cars is the infrastructure available to fuel? How much would it cost for the infrastructure to fuel a 50% fuel cell fleet? In addition you are criticizing EVs for requiring transfer of huge amount of raw power over lines. Not only are you neglecting the possibility of transfering personally generated solar electricity from the rooftop to the car on the property, but more importantly, you are neglecting the requirement of fuel cell cars of creating huge amounts of hydrogen, then transfering a very leak-prone molecule over pipelines, with the infrastructure needing to be built out from scratch.

      Maybe you should get the log out of your eye before you criticize the dust in our eyes.

    • Frank

      Go to youtube and search for Elon Musk fuel cell. All the hand waving in the world isn’t going to fix the physics problems with fuel cells. If you want to charge big battery packs really fast, then front ending them with batteries helps reduce the spikeyness of the load, but for now, the grid can more than handle electric cars, if if we need more generation, we can add it.

      • Erik Alapää

        All the hand waving in the world is not going to fix the physics problem with batteries. If you want facts, do not listen to Elon Musk’s propaganda.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Enough, Erik. Go find a faith-based site. We use facts here.

          • Erik Alapää

            Facts? The fact is that the world is still stuck with diesel, kerosene and gasoline. I tried to discuss the merits of hydrodgen and batteries, you resorted to name-calling.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s what we’re going to do, Erik. You find some facts to support your opinion and then you get back to us.

          • Erik Alapää

            Maybe you should do the same, for batteries? I view batteries and hydrogen as complementary technologies, they have radically different strengths and weaknesses. One main difference is that hydrogen contains many orders of magnitude more energy per kilogram. Why are battery fans so afraid of hydrogen?

    • Bert

      Copying and pasting the same comment
      everywhere is not helpful in any way, especially when you don’t respond to any of the counter arguments that are made.

  • Erik Alapää

    It is pitiful reading all the Tesla-and-battery huggers in this forum. The truth is, for massive energy storage, batteries are just laughable. Hydrogen is the way to go. You will never be able to store e.g. solar energy for a whole winter in batteries.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Hydrogen is a poor third, at best, for long term storage.

      And if you think energy has to be stored for an entire winter then you really know little about renewable energy.

      • Erik Alapää

        Hydrogen has the potential to profoundly change how modern society makes, stores and uses energy. A lot of big corporations and research entities agree with me.

        Storage duration depends on the application, if you do not understand that, you really know little about renewable energy.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Hydrogen certainly does have the potential to profoundly change how modern society makes, stores and uses energy.

          Unfortunately for hydrogen advocates, hydrogen is such a poor storer of energy that is will likely play only a very minor role, at best.

          • Erik Alapää

            Disagree. Hydrogen is great for energy storage. For example, it contains 142 MJ/kg, compared to 44.4 for gasoline.

            BUT it is possible that the convenience of e.g. gasoline or methane will prevail, so we produce hydrogen from nuclear high-temp electrolysis or solar, and then use that H2 to produce some convenient fuel.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Gasoline is not an energy storage technology.

            Hydrogen packs a lot of energy per weight. But very little per volume. Moving and storing energy in the form of hydrogen is inefficient.

            Hydrogen is already too expensive. There’s no need to make it even more expensive by using nuclear mumbo-jumbo.

    • Frank

      Solar produces more in the summer, wind in the winter. Four hours of solar time shifting might become nice to have, as solar ramps. What makes you think we need “massive energy storage”.

      • Erik Alapää

        What makes you think we don’t? Maybe wishful thinking, you love batteries so you try to find applications where batteries may be applicable?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Lithium-ion and zinc-air batteries are likely to have a large role in grid management but they aren’t good options for long term storage. Long term storage is not putting away nuts, er, energy for the winter. There’s no need to store across months. Long term storage is on the multi-week level.

          Time-shifting energy will be done by the most suitable technology which for the most part means the least expensive technology which can do the job. Hydrogen runs a poor third behind pump-up hydro and flow batteries.

          Hydrogen is really not that useful far from the power grid. Hydrogen is a very non-dense energy carrier in terms of volume. It would take approximately 10x as many tankers to move energy in the form of hydrogen compared to gasoline or diesel. It’s more likely we’d use biofuels or syngas in order to keep volume under control.

          .

        • Frank

          Denmark produces 40% of their electricity with wind, Germany maybe 9% solar, and they don’t. We are nowhere near those numbers yet.

    • Bert

      Flow batteries may be promising for the stationary ,mass storage, applications you speak of. They would certainly be more efficient than hydrogen storage, but I am not fully familiar with the barriers that may still stand in their way.

      In the meantime, lithium ion batteries should work plenty fine for energy storage on the single house scale.

      • Erik Alapää

        Flow batteries have even lower energy density than batteries, so for many applications, hydrogen is far superior. Note that a 100 kW fuel cell only weights 70 kg, and the tanks for +400 km range add maybe 100 kg to that. Volume of hydrogen tanks is an issue, but not a showstopper. Look at the latest Honda FCEV.

        • Bert

          Why would energy density be a major concern in the stationary storage applications that I mentioned?

          As for vehicle applications, we wouldn’t use flow batteries in those. We’d use lithium ion batteries, or some other option. Tesla and the next generation electric vehicles will have plenty of range for the average consumer. The only exception would likely be towing. For that, hydrogen could work, but so could an equally expensive battery swap station.

          Hydrogen may be fine on energy density, but the fuel costs are terribly high. If you can show me a feasible scenario where hydrogen fuel becomes cost cooperative, then we can talk about their consumer market potential. I believe that consumers will be willing to add a little extra time to their occasional road trips if it means always paying for fuel that’s under half as expensive.

          Of course, now that you want to bring up the volume issue, if hydrogen vehicles want to gain more range, they basically have to pump the tanks to higher and higher pressures because there isn’t much room to store more tanks onboard. I’m not sure what the practical and safety limitations are on tank pressures, but they may very well cause fuel cell vehicles to lose the range/tank advantage to battery electric vehicles.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The problem with increasing pressure as that it uses a lot more energy, taking the price of H2 even higher. The more you pressurize the more energy it requires to take it a step further.

        • Joe Viocoe

          What’s the total weight of the new Honda FCV?
          Because the Mirai is a 4,100 lbs beast

  • Simple INDIAN

    Rather finding solutions to transport hydrogen, it is better to have on-site power generation bring connection to grid.

    Electric vehicles are always available to take it in or evening time storage on the fly before wind kicks in at night.

  • sjc_1

    Sequester carbon from power plants then make synthetic fuels.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Only a partial solution. We need better….

      • sjc_1

        It all adds up, all or nothing will get you nothing.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Forget about “solutions” which are not solutions. We’ve got to keep the carbon in the ground, not create systems that result in using more fossil fuels.

  • Roger Lambert

    I would like to know about the feasibility of using renewable-derived hydrogen for home heating. Half of the U.S. needs to get of FF for home heating; electricity alone may well be too expensive. We need to talk about this – it’s a big problem.

    • sault

      We’d need to create a hydrogen pipeline infrastructure costing billions of dollars. Probably not going to happen. Existing natural gas pipelines won’t work for piping hydrogen either. And electrolysis plants in garages, basements, etc. are even less practical.

      Buildings incorporating ground-source heat pumps are highly efficient in using electricity for heating. It is much cheaper to incorporate these heat pumps during the construction phase than to retrofit existing buildings with them (and way cheaper than hydrogen pipelines, electrolyzers / compressors / storage tanks / fuel cells, or whatever)

      If we just improve building codes, especially insulation and HVAC energy efficiency standards, the market would naturally move to more cost effective solutions. Heck, maybe my vision of ground source heat pumps for HVAC services isn’t even the best solution. Better building codes could drive us to the best solution.

      • Roger Lambert

        If it only cost billions it would be cheap. Btw, AIUI, natural gas pipes will work, but they leak more than one would want -better to replace them as you said. But ground source heat pumps are going to be way more expensive than upgrading gas lines, and they simply won’t work in a lot of places – like cities.

        Most families in the U.S. not only don’t have enough of a retirement nest egg – they have less than $1000.00 in the bank. Telling them to insulate their homes, or quintuple their heating bill to switch to electric baseboards, or spend $30,000 on a ground-source heat pump is not going to cut it. They will keep burning fossil fuels.

        As I said – this is a really big problem, and nobody seems to be thinking about it very much. Considering that wind, sun, and tide are free, it seems to me a tragedy that simply heating your home is going to be financially ruinous for most people.

        My opinion is that we need to guarantee extremely low-cost or free electricity to meet basic human needs as a matter of human rights. And that means heating and cooling your home.

        Naomi Klein is right – renewable energy implies socialism.

        • Steven F

          Air source heat pumps can be installed for $3,000 to $5,000 and don’t require a lot of space and work as well as geothermal systems. Your cost argument is only for one type of heat source. There are other options. Air source is one. Another option is put solar panels on your roof to to power conventional baseboard heaters. If the solar is dedicated to heating it doesn’t have to be connected to the grid and as a result will cost less than a conventional grid connected solar instalation.

          • Frank

            I think baseboad heating is very inneficient. Financing can solve capital problems if the cost savings is big enough. Also, remember, if you want to do a carbon tax, you have to either reduce some other tax or provide some benefit, paying the interest on insulation or heat pumps.

          • TedKidd

            But if the enclosure is high performing, not much heat is needed. Bias due to a label of “inefficient” is not looking deeply enough when making design decisions – math should be performed to understand where the incremental “better” efficiency doesn’t justify.

          • Frank

            I didn’t catch the nuance. Focusing your efforts where they have the most impact is a good thing.

          • Xander66

            Forgot to mention that before the retro fit 5 years ago (heat pump and windows) my gas was $175/month and electric was $295.00/month

        • Xander66

          I live in the BC interior in Canada. My Air source heat pump cost $3,500.00. It supplies all of my A/C and 90% of my heat. My Hot water tank and house heat backup (of 10%) are from gas. I pay $60.00 per month (avg) for gas and $190.00 per month for electricity. Home is 1 story brick 1350 sq ft with 1100 sq foot fully developed walk out basement. Walls are only 2×6 but ceiling is R60. Windows are triple pane double low e – Argone filled with an R factor of 7.5 but at 73 years of age it’s to late for me to install solar (next owners job).

          Theory is nice but this is my actual story, so make of it what you will.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Do you have an estimate of how much your heat pump saves you per year? The payback time?

          • Roger Lambert

            I have a friend who lives in Maine. Brilliant guy – designed and built his home to be energy-efficient. Lots of insulation – way above what most people have in their homes. Lots of PV panels. He has an air source heat pump. He says he is very disappointed in it – most of the time it is putting out air that is not very warm – 40 or 50 degrees. He has to have other heating options.

            Most of what I have read – and I am by no means an expert – is that you need ground-based in really cold climes. And they are pretty expensive, yes?

    • Joseph Dubeau

      You can mix of some the hydrogen with natural gas nd pump it into the pipeline.
      Better yet, we turn the hydrogen into natural gas by adding CO2.

      • Dan

        The sabatier reaction on Wikipedia says co2 and hydrogen would yield methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas than co2, but it burns cleaner… maybe peaker plants could be repurposed to burn methane?

    • Ronald Brakels

      Natural gas is an energy source. It’s a bad energy source from the point of view of not killing people, but at least it is significantly better than coal – if care is taken not to leak it everywhere.

      But hydrogen is not a source of energy, it is an energy store. We’ve got to put energy in to make hydrogen, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be cheaper to just use that energy to heat homes directly rather than to make hydrogen and then use hydrogen to heat homes. Particularly since since homes can use heat pumps that can turn 1 joule of electricity into multiple joules of heating while one joule of hydrogen will only give one joule of heat when burned.

      • Roger Lambert

        ” I don’t see why it wouldn’t be cheaper to just use that energy to heat homes directly rather than to make hydrogen”

        Because the energy comes from PV panels or wind turbines as electricity, not heat – you can’t heat your house with it directly. Unless we are talking about radiant electric heat, which no one can afford to use, even now.

        But, when we get significant saturation of total energy generation by renewables, on days with a lot of sunshine or a lot of wind, there will be a lot of excess electricity (because renewables must be significantly overbuilt, so they can supply enough juice to all even during sub-optimal days) which can be used to make hydrogen which is both portable and fairly eternal.

        “Particularly since since homes can use heat pumps that can turn 1 joule of electricity into multiple joules of heating”

        Some homes, you mean. Owned by single families who can afford a $30,000 – $50,00 retrofit and have enough property to site it. What about the 100,000,000 million or so people who live in U.S. cities in apartments? What about the 75%+ of homeowners who can not afford or site a heat pump?

        This is a tough problem, not easily solved.

        Unless, of course, our new renewable energy system is owned by the people and the juice is mandated to cost next to nothing. Renewables and socialism were made for each other.

        • Steven F

          “Particularly since since homes can use heat pumps that can turn 1 joule of electricity into multiple joules of heating”

          “Some homes, you mean. Owned by single families who can afford a $30,000 – $50,00 retrofit and have enough property to site it.”

          $30,000 to $50,000 is a little high for a geothermal heat pump. However most homes can get by with air source heat pump That will cost about the same as an air conditioner. They don’t require a lot of space and modern ones work well even at freezing temperatures. If you already have an air conditioner it would not cost much to replace it with a air source heat pump. Most apartments have enough space for air source heat pumps.

        • Ronald Brakels

          1. No one can afford to use electricity for heat.

          2. We will use cheap electricity to create hydrogen.

          3. ?????????????????????????

          4. Therefore, hydrogen.

          • Roger Lambert

            We can use excess electricity to create hydrogen on good days. What that will cost is another issue entirely.

            If we keep on our current track, we are going to sit back and watch as for-profit corporations take over the renewable energy electric utility system, and we will be paying through the nose for electricity forever.

            Or, we can insist on a publicly-owned non profit electric utility system, with rates that we control. If a homeowner can enjoy free electricity after he has payed off his investment in, say, PV panels, so can a nation. And a nation can do even better, because it can buy at wholesale, finance the costs equally among all, and regulate what the end product will cost.

          • Ronald Brakels

            In Australia natural gas is no longer competitive with electricity for household heating. This is because the price of natural gas, which used to be the cheapest in the developed world, has risen towards international prices with the construction of export facilities on the east coast.

            One reason why natural gas is no longer competitive despite Australia having some of the highest retail electricity prices in the world is rooftop solar lowers the cost of electricity for many households. Also, heat pumps have gotten cheaper. I can buy a 2.5 kilowatt heat pump for 776 dollarydoos, which is $543 US. A lot cheaper than the $30,000 to $50,000 figure you give for the US. Boy, are you getting ripped off. And these days there are not many rental properties without one. Ground heat pumps cost more, but they’re not really a thing here. And if you have poor people without heat pumps, why not just give them heat pumps? You can get them cheap from Australia. It seems like a pretty easy and cheaper fix compared to building an all new hydrogen production, storage, and household pipeline network.

            Domestic hydrogen gas is going to be more expensive than domestic natural gas. That’s unavoidable. Hydrogen requires more energy to produce than it contains, which is not the case with natural gas. If there are periods of cheap electricity that can be used to produce hydrogen, then there are periods of cheap electricity where people can use cheap electricity for heating instead of hydrogen and this will reduce the amount of hydrogen households would be willing to buy, increasing the fixed cost component. And the fixed cost component will be very high as the cost of building hydrogen infrastruction will be very high. It will require all new pipes which will cost more than natural gas pipes because they will have to resist hydrogen embrittlement and because of hydrogen’s low density they will have to be some combination of larger or higher pressure to transport the same amount of energy as natural gas pipes. This will cost a lot of money.

            Now around 2% hydrogen by energy content can be added to natural gas without damaging existing natural gas pipelines. That appears to be the limit on hydrogen being piped to households.

      • One-Of-A-Kind

        “But hydrogen is not a source of energy”

        Yes. That explains solar energy. Has NOTHING to do with hydrogen. 😉

  • Foxy

    In other words, this company is still playing with catalysts in the lab and thus will have no affect on FCEV’s.

  • One-Of-A-Kind

    Always dancing on ice if you dare write a pro-hydrogen article. I feel bad for Tina Casey, who is actually an expert in emerging technologies and critical human infrastructure. There is a lot more going on than just from HyperSolar. For instance, in Connecticut, they are building a 63.3 MW fuel cell power plant; which will take the number one position as worlds largest fuel cell set-up, out-doing the once largest 59 MW power plant in S. Korea. Still, from the same company though (FuelCell Energy)

    I don’t know why natural gas is so feared…. It’s so much more clean and effective than coal, and less complicated than nuclear. Most of the new power generation in this country over the last decade that is replacing coal is NG turbines. Whether the NG is used in a battery EV, or a fuel cell vehicle, the well to wheels is about the same in the 40-50% range. The irony is, the only way for the BEV to get much cleaner is for mass wide implementation of fuel cells for generation. If paired with large buildings and the waste heat can be used / captured, the efficiency of electrical generation side is around 80%.

    If you want to get on a tangent about fracking, don’t blame the natural gas. In many cases, it is an UNWANTED by product, and they just burn it off (flares). The real culprit is our thirst for oil. We need the thick liquid constituent to create our fuels. At which point, the oil refining process will actually hydrogenate a lot of this oil with hydrogen from natural gas, but again, that is so easily acquired, they don’t even have to transport it. It’s available virtually everywhere in ground where we place refineries.

    If we used only natural gas, fracking would not even be necessary. Does it work to crack shale in places where natural gas is normally not abundant? Yes. Is that necessary for just natural gas exploration? NO. If you don’t believe me about the enormous waste of natural gas because of our fracking for oil; take a look at a satellite photo of the night sky over Texas and North Dakota. The flares make it look like huge metro areas out in the middle of no-man’s land.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Only about 0.8% of methane produced in Texas is flared, or worse, vented. They would much rather put it in a pipe and sell it. And by Gordo’s left knuckle, they have got a lot of gas pipes in Texas. Now 0.8% is still bad, but it’s not like it used to be when it was just burned off as an unwanted by product of oil extraction.

      • One-Of-A-Kind

        Not sure where you get that number…. Fact is, the amount of gas being flared is in the BILLIONS of cubic ft. There are many well flares that have been found to not even be operating with a flare permit; in other words, the gas is being burned without even being properly accounted for.

        From the San Antonio Express: “In those years, rates of flaring in several Eagle Ford counties approached levels seen in North Dakota’s Bakken field, which has become notorious for burning off about 30 percent of its natural gas.

        La Salle County, one of the top producers of oil and casinghead gas in the region, flared or vented about a fifth of its production — more than 10 million cubic feet.

        At oil wells in Atascosa and Frio counties, energy firms flared a quarter of the 17 billion cubic feet of casinghead gas they produced.

        Companies operating in Wilson County produced nearly 1.4 billion cubic feet of gas from oil wells — but flared or vented more than a third of it.”

        • Ronald Brakels

          I got the figure from the people who issue the permits. I assumed they were telling the truth.

          • One-Of-A-Kind

            Question, again: where did your numbers come from? Your vague answer is a cop out of something that we can actually reference. My source, which contradicts your ‘friends’ is easily verifiable.

          • Ronald Brakels

            I got them from the Railroad Commission of Texas. Their name is on the checks they send me every month to manipulate public opinion. Fortunately for them, their investment finally paid off with the comment I made yesterday. It’s been easy money so far, but thanks to you I finally earned my keep.

            Oh wait, they’re sending me a message on the corruption-phone… They want me to tell you that you may be confused between Texas which has well developed natural gas infrastructure and the Bakken oil field which doesn’t and where a large amount of flaring still takes place.

      • Otis11

        And much of that flaring is to help dispose of sulfur compounds. Sulfur gases themselves don’t burn so well, but add a little natural gas to them and whoosh!

        The only times they flare significant amounts of natural gas is when the field doesn’t produce enough to justify a pipe and the nearest NG market is too far away to make it economical… which means it rarely happens in the US. Mostly off shore and in Africa iirc…

    • sault

      Tina writes these articles on purpose to get the comments section “flared” up (get it?). Don’t feel bad about it.

      The 63MW plant in Conn. is a drop in the bucket compared to the energy storage Tesla plans to provide. And V2G applications have the potential to blow even Tesla’s Powerwall aspirations out of the water. Waste heat is only usable in certain situations and only because fuel cells are so inefficient. Battery storage is much more scalable and flexible to different sized buildings.

      You are wrong about the only way for BEVs to get cleaner is for stationary fuel cells to increase their contribution to the grid. On the contrary, cutting out coal and natural gas more and more by building more renewable energy is the quickest, cheapest and most straightforward way to cut BEV carbon emissions. Increasing the demand for natural gas, even in the short term, just locks us into more fracking, more huge methane leaks, more water contamination and more economic / political power gained by the fossil fuel companies that will use it to derail renewable energy deployment any way they can.

      • One-Of-A-Kind

        63MW is not energy storage; it’s generation capacity. That’s 1.512 GWh / day.

        How much would that cost in the form of Tesla battery?

        Basic, easy math here. At $350 / KWh of storage (powerwall pricing) – that’s a $529,200,000 battery – BEFORE INSTALLATION.

        Feel free to check my math on that one, since you’re so smart, and i’m so wrong. Half a billion dollars. I like how you call that “a drop in the bucket”

  • JamesWimberley

    The last paragraph can perhaps be take as Tina’s concession to reality. Hydrogen from catalysis is an important prospect – but running cars on it is the least economic and most indirect of several possible uses. P2G (including further processing to methane, for example in biomass reactors) is far more credible.

    IIRC seawater is better for catalysis than fresh. You need dissolved salts to get it to work.

    • eveee

      Thanks for the return to reality. I was beginning to turn into a fantasy cartoon character reading this stuff.

      • Foersom

        > I was beginning to turn into a fantasy cartoon character reading this stuff.

        We look forward to the avatar update. 😉

        On the internet no one knows you are a cat, unless you put a photo in the avatar.

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