Elon Musk has a historical past of expressing robust opinions about hydrogen and hydrogen gasoline cells. Just a few years in the past, when the topic got here up throughout a dialogue with reporters on the Automotive Information World Congress, the electrical automobile magnate described hydrogen gasoline cells as “extraordinarily foolish.”
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has reiterated his skepticism about hydrogen’s function within the deliberate shift to a extra sustainable future, describing it as “essentially the most dumb factor I might presumably think about for vitality storage.”
Throughout an interview on the Financial Times Future of the Car summit on Tuesday, Musk was requested if he thought hydrogen had a job to play in accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels.
“No,” he replied. “I actually cannot emphasize this sufficient — the variety of occasions I have been requested about hydrogen, it is likely to be … it is properly over 100 occasions, possibly 200 occasions,” he mentioned. “It is necessary to know that if you need a method of vitality storage, hydrogen is a nasty selection.”
Increasing on his argument, Musk went on to state that “gigantic tanks” can be required to carry hydrogen in liquid kind. If it have been to be saved in gaseous kind, “even greater” tanks can be wanted, he mentioned.
Described by the Worldwide Power Company as a “versatile vitality service,” hydrogen has a various vary of purposes and might be deployed in sectors corresponding to trade and transport.
In 2019, the IEA mentioned hydrogen was “one of many main choices for storing vitality from renewables and appears promising to be a lowest-cost possibility for storing electrical energy over days, weeks and even months.”
The Paris-based group added that each hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels have been capable of “transport vitality from renewables over lengthy distances — from areas with ample photo voltaic and wind sources, corresponding to Australia or Latin America, to energy-hungry cities hundreds of kilometres away.”
Musk has a historical past of expressing strong opinions about hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells.
Just a few years in the past, when the topic got here up throughout a dialogue with reporters on the Automotive Information World Congress, the electrical automobile magnate described hydrogen gasoline cells as “extraordinarily foolish.”
“It doesn’t naturally happen on Earth, so that you both have to separate water with electrolysis or crack hydrocarbons,” he advised the Monetary Instances.
“Once you’re cracking hydrocarbons, you actually have not solved the fossil gasoline downside, and the effectivity of electrolysis is poor.”
Right now, nearly all of hydrogen manufacturing relies on fossil fuels. One other methodology of manufacturing contains utilizing electrolysis, with an electrical present splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen.
If the electrical energy used on this course of comes from a renewable supply corresponding to wind or photo voltaic then some name it inexperienced or renewable hydrogen.
Hydrogen tasks utilizing electrolysis have attracted curiosity from main corporations and enterprise leaders lately, however it might seem Musk will not be a fan.
“The effectivity of electrolysis is … poor,” he advised the Monetary Instances. “So you actually are spending a whole lot of vitality to … cut up hydrogen and oxygen. Then it’s a must to separate the hydrogen and oxygen and pressurize it — this additionally takes a whole lot of vitality.”
“And if it’s a must to liquefy … hydrogen, oh my God,” he continued. “The quantity of vitality required to … make hydrogen and switch it into liquid kind is staggering. It’s the most dumb factor that I might presumably think about for vitality storage.”
Totally different viewpoints
Musk could also be dismissive about hydrogen’s function within the vitality transition, however different influential voices are a bit of extra optimistic. These embrace Anna Shpitsberg, who’s deputy assistant secretary for vitality transformation on the U.S. Division of State.
During a recent panel discussion moderated by CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, Shpitsberg known as hydrogen “a game-changing know-how that speaks to quite a lot of different sources … as a result of it could underpin nuclear, it could underpin fuel, it could underpin renewables, it could clear a very good portion of it and so can CCUS [carbon capture utilization and storage].”
Elsewhere, February noticed Michele DellaVigna, Goldman Sachs’ commodity fairness enterprise unit chief for the EMEA area, highlight the important role he felt it would have going forward.
“If we need to go to net-zero we will not do it simply by renewable energy,” he mentioned.
“We’d like one thing that takes at present’s function of pure fuel, particularly to handle seasonality and intermittency, and that’s hydrogen,” DellaVigna argued, occurring to explain hydrogen as “a really highly effective molecule.”
The important thing, he mentioned, was to “produce it with out CO2 emissions. And that is why we speak about inexperienced, we speak about blue hydrogen.”
Blue hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced utilizing pure fuel — a fossil gasoline — with the CO2 emissions generated through the course of captured and saved. There was a charged debate across the function blue hydrogen can play within the decarbonization of society.
“Whether or not we do it with electrolysis or we do it with carbon seize, we have to generate hydrogen in a clear approach,” DellaVigna mentioned. “And as soon as now we have it, I believe now we have an answer that would turn out to be, in the future, a minimum of 15% of the worldwide vitality markets which implies it will likely be … over a trillion greenback market every year.”