Hydrogen’s many uses and ability to be produced from domestic resources, including renewable sources like solar and wind, make it a promising renewable energy source. Hydrogen fuels cars, houses, portable power, and more. Industrial processes, rocket fuel, and fuel cells for electricity and vehicles use it. Hydrogen can store energy for electric power generation, enabling decarbonization by storing renewable energy for days or weeks. However, producing hydrogen requires more energy than it produces when converted to useful energy, making it difficult to use hydrogen as a gas to power our homes and businesses.
Hydrogen has many renewable energy merits, including:
- Renewable and abundant: Hydrogen is abundant.
- Clean energy source: Hydrogen combines with oxygen to produce water and heat. Fuel cell consumption produces only water, electricity, and heat from this clean fuel.
- Versatile: Hydrogen can power vehicles, provide heat, and more. Industrial processes, rocket fuel, and fuel cells for electricity and vehicles use it. Hydrogen is a promising lightweight fuel for road, air, and shipping.
- Energy storage: Hydrogen can store energy for power generation. It can help decarbonize the electric power sector by storing renewable energy for days or weeks.
- Pollution reduction: Hydrogen reduces pollution greatly. Hydrogen fuel cells produce no greenhouse gases or particulates.
Despite these merits, hydrogen energy has issues.
- One major drawback of hydrogen energy is the high cost of production and storage.
- Currently, the process of electrolysis is relatively expensive and energy-intensive
- Storage issues: Hydrogen, a gas at room temperature, requires high-pressure or cryogenic tanks.
- The cost of infrastructure is prohibitive for completing this process.
- Safety concerns: Hydrogen is flammable and odorless, making leak detection difficult without sensitive sensors. It is also volatile in its gaseous state.
- Energy loss: Hydrogen storage results in energy loss.
- Hydrogen is not the most efficient energy carrier compared to other options like rechargeable batteries, pumped-storage hydroelectricity, compressed air, and molten salt.
- The future of hydrogen fuel cells requires investment in research and development to become a viable energy source. This will also require political will to invest time and money in technology development to improve and mature it.
- Infrastructure development: Large-scale hydrogen gas production for homes and businesses is difficult. Hydrogen fuel cells can replace methane if the infrastructure is upgraded.
- Collaboration: Hydrogen economy development and implementation require government, industry, and research collaboration. This requires a coordinated effort to address hydrogen fuel cell challenges and opportunities.