Incorporating hydrogen into our countrys energy portfolio is an essential element for achieving a more sustainable energy future. Alternative energy is increasingly a hot topic these days solar, wind, hydro and hydrogen. Discussion about alternative energy has increased since the bold plans and ambitious challenges offered by T. Boone Pickens and Al Gore were introduced. Furthermore, the National Research Council recently finished a report concluding that a mix of alternative energy technologies are needed, but the hydrogen-powered vehicles cars are the better long-term solution for reducing our dependence on oil and gasoline. With energy costs continuing to increase, it is becoming abundantly clear that we need to expand our use of alternative energy.
These three seemingly separate events have a common goal: improving our future and economic outlook by incorporating alternative energy with hydrogen serving as a link. The report from the National Research Council reinforces and validates the value of hydrogen as a key part for achieving sustainability. Building both a hydrogen-centered and renewable energy infrastructure enhances the benefits of each and creates a pathway to a sustainable energy future.
The following explains how hydrogen fits into the plan proposed by Pickens, how the industry is mobilized to meet Gores challenge, the significance of the NRC study, and a special announcement about an upcoming hydrogen vehicle tour:
T. Boone Pickens ambitious plan to provide 20% of Americas electricity via wind power underscores how hydrogen and renewables could work together. In Mr. Pickens words, the United States could become the Saudi Arabia of wind." A key benefit of building large-scale wind farms is that excess energy produced during off-peak hours when demand for electricity is lower (such as at night) could be used to produce hydrogen via electrolysis of water. This would harness energy that would otherwise go to waste, and serves as an example of how hydrogen improves the effectiveness of renewable energy. Pickens suggestion to use domestic, compressed natural gas to fuel vehicles during the transition in the interim would help consumers and suppliers become more familiar and comfortable with using compressed gas, a form in which hydrogen could also be used. (Plus, hydrogen can also be created through steam-reforming of natural gas in short, creating two fuels from one source.)
On July 17th, former Vice President Al Gore spoke at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., challenging the nation to find a way, within 10 years, to produce all electric power from renewable sources. Citing the Apollo mission as a model, Gore called on everyone - including business, government, researchers, and private citizens to move the US towards meeting its energy needs through renewable and carbon-free sources by 2018. As a clean and efficient energy carrier, hydrogen can be used to store newly generated clean energy which can be used at any time. In short, we are working with other alternative energy associations, energy companies, auto manufacturers and government agencies to develop a stronger bond between hydrogen technologies as an enabler for wider deployment of renewable energy sources.
Finally, the National Research Council released a study estimating the practical number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that could be deployed by 2023. The Council's findings strongly support the National Hydrogen Associations assessments and in some cases are more aggressive. The NRC study reinforces the NHAs primary belief: hydrogen is an essential component of our nations shift to a cleaner, more sustainable long term energy future. As the United States makes hydrogen technologies more commercially available, other types of alternative vehicles will be needed to bridge the transition, including hybrids, biofuels and electric cars. The study estimates that about 5.5 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could be operating by 2023, and that the government cost of investing in transition to hydrogen would be $55 billion (less than six months of military spending in Iraq) from 2009 to 2023. With tax incentives already introduced in Congress and adequate market response, we believe that the net cost to the U.S. government would be less than $15 billion over the next 15 years, including research and development.
Finally, wed love share some exciting news about hydrogen cars traveling across the country. This is an opportunity for auto manufacturers to finally show the technology and allow people experience the technology first hand. More details about the two-week event will be announced on August 11. For updates and more information as it's available, visit www.HydrogenRoadTour.com.
Hydrogen carries the promise for achieving a clean, sustainable future by enabling and linking all alternative energy sources. As conversation about alternative energy continues, the Hydrogen Education Foundation will continue to help people have a clearer understanding of how hydrogen has a critical role in our nations future energy mix. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments by visiting www.H2andYou.org.
Thanks to The Daily Green for allowing us to share the hydrogen story.
National Hydrogen Association
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