Is Hydrogen Economy Driven By Fantasy?

Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool identifies what he considers five fantasy theme repeated in the wish for a hydrogen economy.

Published: 02-Feb-2010

As many readers of this forum likely already know, the “hydrogen economy” would rely on hydrogen to power vehicles and electricity generators and produce only water vapor as “pollution.” Proponents promise that the use of hydrogen as a primary fuel could greatly reduce the tension between energy use and environmental degradation.

However, rather than being based on science, some evidence indicates that hydrogen research is being supported because of the way the hydrogen economy fulfills psychological and cultural needs related to a future world where energy is abundant, cheap, and pollution free, This “fantasy” manifests itself with the idea that society can continue to operate without limits imposed by population growth and the destruction of the environment.

To make this claim, myself and colleague Dr. Brent Brossmann drew research interviews of energy experts, as well as concepts in communication studies and rhetoric, to assess the ways that visions of the hydrogen economy are created and sustained. We began by documenting visions of the hydrogen economy as articulated by its proponents in the academic and popular literature. We searched hundreds of articles and narrowed our results to a sample of 52 academic, newspaper, and magazine articles along with a few reports and political transcripts.


New Holland NH2 fuel cell-powered tractor.

The NH2 tractor is a 120hp working prototype able to perform all the tasks of a T6000, while operating virtually silently and emitting only water and vapour.

Fuel cell cars Honda FC Sport concept might some day be fueled by biomass-derived hydrogen.

Tomorrow's fuel-cell vehicles may be powered by enzymes that consume cellulose from woodchips or grass and exhale hydrogen.

Nissan X-trail FCV used earlier PEM-based fuel cell.

The solid-oxide fuel cell produces 4kW and would be used to charge the vehicle's battery.


blog comments powered by Disqus