Global hydrogen viability

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Jean Boucher

Nov 3, 2022, 9:38:47 AM11/3/22
to Energy and Social Science Network (EASSN) Announcement List, SCORAI Group
Hi Everyone,
     Is there something like a definitive paper on the viability and feasibility of a global hydrogen production/consumption, market/economy?  Or is this too simple a question for the present complexities of hydrogen?  I ask because our governments seem to have already bought into it.



The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadow onto others.  – Carl Jung

Ruben Anderson

Nov 3, 2022, 12:43:59 PM11/3/22
to SCORAI Group
My first stop for the reality of alternate energy systems is always Tom Murphy’s Do The Math blog. 

"Electrolysis for the production of hydrogen tends to range between 50–70% efficient. Then the fuel cell converts the stored energy back into electricity at 40–60% efficiency for a round-trip efficiency of 20–40%. If you happen to want some of the waste heat, then you might boost the efficiency estimate"

Hydrogen is a storage medium, not a fuel source—there are no pools of hydrogen lying around that we can drill. So, usually it is either extracted from fossil fuels or it is made with electrolysis, in which case you need to factor in further losses in the generation of the electricity. 

Presumably hydrogen will be made with renewable energy, which already do not have a sufficient Energy Return On Energy Invested to power an advanced civilization. 

The nice thing about hydrogen is that you can pretend that the cult of Happy Motoring will survive. 

Ruben (not Nelson)

Richard Rosen

Nov 3, 2022, 12:47:08 PM11/3/22
to, SCORAI Group
Hydrogen will be useful for applications that need a gas to replace natural gas, namely some industrial processes and for peaking electricity production.  It will be a very small part of the economy.  --- Rich Rosen

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Rees, William E.

Nov 3, 2022, 3:18:43 PM11/3/22
to, SCORAI Group,

Anyone interested in the issues associated with hydrogen as green energy solution should read the following two part serie (use Google Translate):


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Sent: Thursday, November 3, 2022 9:46:55 AM
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Subject: Re: [SCORAI] Global hydrogen viability
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Kevin Dillman

Jan 17, 2023, 5:13:57 PMJan 17

Hi Jean,

This is probably coming quite late, but a new article we just published in Climate addresses this issue -- it is a simple analysis in an mdpi journal, but we are hoping it is at least effective in surfacing exactly this argument and addressing that while hydrogen does represent a clean "shift", it will not be sufficient for a 'safe' 1.5C future aimed for in the global energy models. It highlights how at the predicted scales of the hydrogen economy in these models, either significant improvements would be needed for hydrogen's production or how further demand-side solutions will be needed to reduce this scale if it will represent a sufficient transition for a "safe" future.

Dillman, K.; Heinonen, J. Towards a Safe Hydrogen Economy: An Absolute Climate Sustainability Assessment of Hydrogen Production. Climate 202311, 25.

Best regards,
Kevin Joseph Dillman, Ph.D.
Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Iceland



Tom Abeles

Jan 17, 2023, 9:22:12 PMJan 17
Ruben Nelson's argument regarding a MITI society makes great sense in principle. Are we delusional that we can technologically work our way out of the current dilemma?

The latest well funded and structured effort to go beyond Raworth's Doughnut is the Wellbeing Economic Alliance which has the matrix to develop policies and actions for a humane-centric global society, and which, as Ruben has noted, does everything except solve the energy problem in a sustainable fashion.

Theoretically we could take every source of "green" energy and add up the amount that could be generated. We could then take the current world and sum up the demands. Then we could build scenarios that lead to a desirable planetary future showing variable reduction of overshoot on one side of the consumption column and then look at the mix of options for meeting energy production and see if there is a series that mix and match and the way that the two sides can be realized.

Tom Walker

Jan 18, 2023, 1:21:10 AMJan 18
Tom Abeles asked, "Are we delusional that we can technologically work our way out of the current dilemma?"



Tom Walker (Sandwichman)

Jean Boucher

Jan 18, 2023, 5:33:10 AMJan 18

Joe Zammit-Lucia

Jan 18, 2023, 5:36:38 AMJan 18
to Tom Walker,,,
Of course none of us likes to think that our own favourite hobby horses are delusional. Only others’ 

Jean Boucher

Jan 18, 2023, 6:37:00 AMJan 18
to, Tom Walker,,,
Are you calling me delusional, Joe? Who me?  hahaha

Tom Abeles

Jan 18, 2023, 9:02:02 AMJan 18
to Jean Boucher,, Tom Walker,,
In any equation such as A+B=C+D there is a limiting reagent. Clean energy, today and near term is that reagent. The one current option is nuclear, specifically small, modular and decentralized. The other option is to limit the material input, deliberately. In this case the equation gets redefined. The circular economy is only a brief pause on the way to increased consumption whether one mortgages future resource availability for today's demands.

Near term, there is no way to increase the material resources, not efficiency, the circularity, or finding unknown deposits on the planet or importing from off-planet. As the current war has shown, the human designed system is addicted to fossil fuels which can't be engineered away near term. Nuclear sets the goal post in power availability whether chosen or not. Materials are the limiting reagent.

To return to where this thread started, sans the flippancies, H2 is, as stated, a carrier, whether limited as Rees' reposts make clear. All the analysis is extraneous academic persiflage on a path to providing a way forward.


Joe Zammit-Lucia

Jan 18, 2023, 9:16:28 AMJan 18
to Jean Boucher, Tom Walker,,,
Dear Jean,

The question is whether being labeled delusional is a good thing or a bad thing. 

Most big transformations started out being labeled delusional by many. 

So if you thought I was labeling you delusional, wear it with pride. 😎

Tom Walker

Jan 18, 2023, 1:40:09 PMJan 18
to Joe Zammit-Lucia, Jean Boucher,,,
My delusion is that if only I had a broad enough platform, if only millions of people were reading and talking about my ideas instead of a handful, something different would happen. I am not proud of that delusion. It elevates media to the status of the divine. But there is no there there. My audience is a figment of my imagination, whether it is a dozen or a million.

I am reminded of Leonard Cohen's The Stranger Song
"Like any dealer he was watching for the card that is so high and wild
He'll never need to deal another"

There is no such card.


Tom Walker (Sandwichman)
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