Hydrogen fuel can indeed be produced via electrolysis, which requires connection to some kind of power source, be it a coal-fired power plant or an array of solar panels, and this raises a question…
“Renewable energy, such as wind power and solar power, are typically intermittent, so how can they be used as a reliable source for hydrogen fuel generation?” Hydrogen fuel opponents would say that renewable energy, such as wind or solar hydrogen fuel generation is inefficient and unreliable, so the bulk of the load would logically have to fall back to “reliable,” and dirty, fossil fuels. So, why such narrow-minded thinking on hydrogen fuel generation via renewable energy? It makes no sense to make such an argument!
Here’s the point: If you want to reduce emissions, such as making the switch to hydrogen fuel, than you have to generate via inefficient and intermittent renewable energy. Fossil fuels are a poor choice to begin with, and a worse backup solution, judging by carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions. Inefficiencies and intermittencies aside, this hasn’t prevented some forward-thinking companies from making use of the technology that we have available. Case in point: Honda opens the world’s first commercial-scale solar-hydrolysis hydrogen fuel station in the UK.
Honda has already been behind some pretty advanced application of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, such as the Honda FCX Clarity, and hydrogen fuel generation and stations, as well as encouraging Japan to adopt hydrogen fuel standards. The new hydrogen fuel generator was built at Honda UK’s Swindon plant, with pipes leading some 300 m to a filling station outside. The new hydrogen fuel station is expected to produce some twenty tonnes of hydrogen annually, powered entirely by the sun, using solar hydrolysis. There is no grid connection. The first “customers” at this new hydrogen fueling station will be a couple of hydrogen fuel cell fork lifts, a fleet of commercial vehicles, and a hydrogen fuel educational center.
Converting this single station’s output to something tangible, twenty tonnes of hydrogen fuel, powering the Hyundai ix35, whose fuel economy is rated at ≈49 mi/kg H2, is enough clean solar hydrogen for 980,000 miles per year. Similarly, the Honda FCX Clarity, which gets 60 mi/kg H2, this works out to about 1,200,000 miles per year. Put another way, the new plant in Swindon, whose emissions-free hydrogen fuel is generated exclusively by the sun, can fuel a fleet of about 90 cars, averaging 11,500 miles per year at an average 24.9 mpg, eliminating some 390 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.