We know that renewable energy, such as hydrogen fuel cell technology, could be the future of energy and transportation, but if it isn’t economically viable, then why bother?
The answer, of course, is because it is the right thing to do. Researchers have spent decades researching ways to clean up our act with regards to vehicle efficiency, including electrification and even hydrogen fuel cell technology, but actual implementation is always far behind.
Take, for example, the hydrogen fuel cell. Electrolysis to generate hydrogen fuel is a couple hundred years old, and the hydrogen fuel cell is almost as old. Actually, fuel cell technology predates automobile technology by about 80 years, so why aren’t we seeing more widespread use of hydroen fuel cell technology in everything from homes to space stations? Well, the International Space Station does run on solar power. The now-decommissioned Space Shuttle program ran on hydrogen fuel cells, though.
Money makes the world go around. Take, for example, a recent development at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Using a combination of concentrated solar power [CSP], water, and metal oxide catalysts, researchers can generate hydrogen fuel from water, using solar power, much more efficiently than ever before. Of course, since it’s entirely solar powered, there are no carbon dioxide emissions associated with it. Will this technology ever see the light of day? [sorry, pun intended.]
“With the price of natural gas so low, there is no incentive to burn clean energy,” states Professor Alan Weimer, who’s also the executive director of the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, “There would have to be a substantial monetary penalty for putting carbon into the atmosphere, or the price of fossil fuels would have to go way up.”
What incentive do we need other than self-preservation?