Elon Musk has a historical past of expressing sturdy 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 position within the deliberate shift to a extra sustainable future, describing it as “probably the most dumb factor I may probably think about for vitality storage.”
Throughout an interview on the Monetary Instances Way forward for the Automotive 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 instances I have been requested about hydrogen, it could be … it is effectively over 100 instances, perhaps 200 instances,” he stated. “It is necessary to know that if you need a method of vitality storage, hydrogen is a foul alternative.”
Increasing on his argument, Musk went on to state that “gigantic tanks” can be required to carry hydrogen in liquid type. If it had been to be saved in gaseous type, “even larger” tanks can be wanted, he stated.
Described by the Worldwide Power Company as a “versatile vitality service,” hydrogen has a various vary of purposes and could be deployed in sectors akin to business and transport.
In 2019, the IEA stated hydrogen was “one of many main choices for storing vitality from renewables and appears promising to be a lowest-cost choice for storing electrical energy over days, weeks and even months.”
The Paris-based group added that each hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels had been in a position to “transport vitality from renewables over lengthy distances — from areas with considerable photo voltaic and wind assets, akin to Australia or Latin America, to energy-hungry cities hundreds of kilometres away.”
Musk has a historical past of expressing sturdy 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.”
“It doesn’t naturally happen on Earth, so that you both have to separate water with electrolysis or crack hydrocarbons,” he instructed the Monetary Instances.
“Once you’re cracking hydrocarbons, you actually have not solved the fossil gasoline drawback, and the effectivity of electrolysis is poor.”
At this time, nearly all of hydrogen manufacturing is predicated 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 akin to wind or photo voltaic then some name it inexperienced or renewable hydrogen.
Hydrogen initiatives utilizing electrolysis have attracted curiosity from main firms and enterprise leaders in recent times, however it will seem Musk shouldn’t be a fan.
“The effectivity of electrolysis is … poor,” he instructed the Monetary Instances. “So you actually are spending a number of vitality to … break up hydrogen and oxygen. Then you need to separate the hydrogen and oxygen and pressurize it — this additionally takes a number of vitality.”
“And if you need to liquefy … hydrogen, oh my God,” he continued. “The quantity of vitality required to … make hydrogen and switch it into liquid type is staggering. It’s the most dumb factor that I may probably think about for vitality storage.”
Totally different viewpoints
Musk could also be dismissive about hydrogen’s position within the vitality transition, however different influential voices are just a little extra optimistic. These embody Anna Shpitsberg, who’s deputy assistant secretary for vitality transformation on the U.S. Division of State.
Throughout a current panel dialogue moderated by CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, Shpitsberg known as hydrogen “a game-changing expertise that speaks to a wide range of different sources … as a result of it could underpin nuclear, it could underpin fuel, it could underpin renewables, it could clear a superb 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, spotlight the necessary position he felt it will have going ahead.
“If we wish to go to net-zero we won’t do it simply via renewable energy,” he stated.
“We’d like one thing that takes right this moment’s position 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 stated, 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 in the course of the course of captured and saved. There was a charged debate across the position 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 manner,” DellaVigna stated. “And as soon as we’ve it, I believe we’ve an answer that might develop into, someday, a minimum of 15% of the worldwide vitality markets which suggests it is going to be … over a trillion greenback market each year.”