We thought today, Valentine’s Day, would be the perfect occasion to share why we are so passionate about clean hydrogen. It is also an opportune time to kick-off our new No-Compromise Energy Series of articles that dive deeper into the many reasons to love the number one element. After all, like love, hydrogen is everywhere.
We are in good company when it comes to loving the wonders that hydrogen can bring to society and who are actively working to make it happen. A couple of weeks ago, Toyota, BMW AG, Daimler AG, Honda Motor Co., and Hyundai Motor Co., along with oil and gas companies Shell and Total, made a “huge bet” on hydrogen. According to IDTechEx journal, these automotive and oil giants committed to investing $10.7 billion in hydrogen-related products within five years. In a joint statement issued from Davos, Switzerland, 13 companies have formed a “Hydrogen Council” to consult with policy makers and to educate governments and cities on the benefits of hydrogen as the world transitions from fossil fuels to sustainable energy.
These were the words that Shell’s CEO Ben Van Beurden used to describe hydrogen at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 20. Specifically, he said, “The world of energy is transforming very, very fast. Hydrogen has massive potential.” These words, coming from one of the ten largest oil companies in the world, are not only highly encouraging but bear witness to the enormous potential of using hydrogen energy as the world looks for solutions to fight climate change.
Here’s where love comes into the equation. The “massive potential” that captivates industry players like Van Beurden and car companies like Toyota (who has been offering a hydrogen fuel car since 2014) has to do with hydrogen’s capacity to be a true ‘no-compromise’ sustainable fuel. This trade-off-free potential is becoming more of a reality in recent years as technology breakthroughs are helping to make hydrogen more available, affordable and clean—three things to love about the universe’s omnipresent element.
Love for All
At a universal level, hydrogen is the ultimate energy. It powers our sun and every single one of the 100 billion stars in our galaxy. It is the source of all light, all energy, and all life. One gram of hydrogen fuel yields the same amount of energy as ten million grams of coal when subjected to the pressures inside stars. The average-sized star contains an unimaginable quantity of it: 75% of its mass is comprised of hydrogen atoms, which is plenty to last through the ages. Every light you see up in the night sky is powered by hydrogen that produces energy that lasts billions of years and supplies the hydrogen that makes the water you drink.
Hydrogen’s abundance is virtually unlimited. It accounts for 93% of the atoms in the universe and 66% of the atoms in our oceans. It is this abundance that makes hydrogen so attractive as a source of energy that could be powering societies everywhere. But for hydrogen to love us back so that we can fully exploit its natural abundance, we need the help of scientists and technologists who continue to make progress on several fronts. Our second article in this series, coming up next week, will explore hydrogen’s abundance and the work going on in the industry to make it a viable energy source, accessible to all.
Love You Can Afford
For most things we use and consume, market forces dictate pricing. Supply and demand play a key role in the price we pay for everything—from a gallon of milk at the store to a gallon of diesel at the pump. Thomas Sowell, American economist and fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford said, “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it.” The scarcer a resource is, the more you have to pay to get it.
That is why we love hydrogen. From a scarcity standpoint, it is “water cheap.” True, the element is there, but separating it from its oxygen bond in water has historically proven to be very hard. This simple fact is what makes hydrogen fuel scarce, which in turn, makes it expensive. Thankfully, advanced technology is set to change this. Innovative techniques to harvest hydrogen from water, like Hydrogen 2.0, have the potential to turn this paradigm on its head to the point where hydrogen fuel can be made anywhere there is access to water. Moreover, it is designed to be cost-competitive with other carbon-based fuels and renewables.
Love that? We will explore the hydrogen affordability story in our third article in this series.
Love that is Sustainable
Love for our planet requires that we power our world with energy that doesn’t harm our environment or emit greenhouse gases that cause global warming, like CO2. In the area of sustainability, there is much to love about hydrogen. It is a clean-burning fuel because hydrogen produces zero pollutants during its use. There’s no greenhouse gases, no emissions, no particulates, and no negative environmental impact. The combustion of hydrogen fuel results only in water vapor that nature immediately reincorporates into the environment. Historically, the challenge has been how to make the production and transportation of hydrogen as “clean” as the element itself. New processes to produce hydrogen are close to making it a zero-carbon fuel on the source side as well.
Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s chairman, described this lovable attribute of hydrogen at Davos a few weeks ago when he said, “In addition to transportation, hydrogen has the potential to support our transition to a low-carbon society across multiple industries and the entire value chain.” This is the kind of thinking that drove his company, Shell, and a dozen other automotive and energy companies to invest $10.7 billion to realize the promise of hydrogen as a clean fuel. Our last article in this series will cover what clean hydrogen means for our planet and the actions required to make the entire hydrogen lifecycle free from CO2 emissions.
Spread the Love
A ‘no-compromise’ clean energy source that is abundant and affordable is one that consumers, industry and governments alike can love. The next three articles in our No-Compromise Energy Series will examine hydrogen’s potential from these three different angles: abundance and availability, affordability, and sustainability.
As we collectively realize that powering our society can be accomplished without trade-offs between sustainability and economic growth, the love we all share for our planet will materialize in a better world for all.
Have a joi-ful Valentine’s Day.
As the Hydrogen 2.0 ecosystem gains momentum, we’ll be sharing our views and insights on the new Hydrogen 2.0 Economy. We also update our blog every week with insightful and current knowledge in this growing energy field.