Monday, February 21, 2005

The Solar Hydrogen Economy

Despite what you may hear or read, humankind is very close to developing the technologies we need to run our homes, our offices, our transportation devices, and our industries sustainably and without pollution.

It's the people with the pollution and the depletion who would tell you otherwise.

In my lectures, I used to talk about the big lie. The big lie was this idea that in order to have economic development, you must suffer a little pollution, and a little bit of depletion of your resources. In fact, this is true for a carbon economy. And it is certainly true of nuclear technology.

But it is not true in a Solar Hydrogen Economy.

And when I say solar, I mean wind, and other advanced renewable energies.

With existing technology in windpower, we can create usable electrical energy at prices slightly above 2 cents /Kwh. This is remarkable and a significant achievement.

If I use wind energy to create hydrogen from water with existing off-the-shelf equipment, I can produce high quality hydrogen fuel for cars, boilers, and stove tops. At 2 cents/ Kwh, that hydrogen fuel, once I have amortized my cost of electrolyzers, is the energy equivalent of 12-15 dollar natural gas. Wholesale natural gas is around $6.00 and retail is almost double that.

But the price of gasoline is a different matter.

Since a gallon of gasoline has about 140,000 BTUs and a natural gas equivalent MCF of hydrogen is a million BTUs, hydrogen from 2 cent windpower is $1.75 to $2.00 gasoline.

Let me say that one more time.

Hydrogen from 2 cent windpower is equal to $2.00 gasoline at the pump.

Of course the gasoline at the pump has about 50 or so cents worth of taxes.

But at least when you burn the hydrogen, you get water.

And this hydrogen can be burned in the engine of your car, in your furnace at home, or on your stove top. We don't need fuel cells to use hydrogen.

We need vision.

So, right now, if we really wanted to, we could provide a clean renewable fuel for industry, utilities, homes, and cars from windpower...if we wanted to.

There is an idea out there right now to do just that.

Its called the Phoenix Project.

We could begin to do this now.

In the meantime, we need to get the price of solar into the 2 to 5 cent range, and we need transportation appliances that can be unified with the electric grid.

I mentioned Power Paints in a previous post.

Power Paints could very possibly change everything. With these nanodots in regular solvents, every man-made surface that sees solar energy could become a transducer of photons to electrons. Those electrons would be gridded off and moved to the electric grid, consumed on site, or sent back to the power plant to be stored as hydrogen.

But here is another solar technology that has developed at Boston College.

It converts sunlight to electricity using nanoantennas. These rectanae receive light like the old TV antenna on your house did. And just like your old antenna received the radio waves, the light antenna receives the light waves. This would be a true show stopper for coalies and nukers.

Either of these technologies could get us to 2 cent solar electricity. And remember, you probably pay 10 cents/Kwh for your electricity right now.

Add to this, the development of plug in hybrids that allow you to use either liquid or electric fuel, and you have a unified energy system that pretty much allows for as much development as you want.

And we can do it without poisoning the air, scraping the earth, changing the climate, or creating dangerous man made elements that remain toxic for centuries.

All we need now is a solid state continuous laser from silicon and our computers will be able to run on light at the speed of light.

And as of last week.

Here it is.


We don't have an energy crisis

We have a crises where greed

meets intelligence

It's a crises of consciousness.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we can do this, why don't we?

6:31 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

Given the storm that is coming, I think we will.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I question these numbers. what about the people who say that hydrogen destoys energy and that creating hydrogen from renewables is not realistic?

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The will of the people is a many splendored thing, presently in the hands of atavistic know-nothings so wormed into the fabric of society that school cirruculums are subverted in the service of pseudo-scientist thinking."

When students are taught bs they prefer to become know-nothings, and school haters, too. The school systems become perpetual know-nothing spewing machines.


3:29 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

on questioning the numbers, I don't blame you, but I have pretty good confidence in them. the folks at the hydrogen electrolyzer company have the same numbers. As for the 2 cent wind, yes that is a very good price. However, I have seen 2.2 cent bids cross my desk.
With a large commitment such as I am suggesting, we could probably get below 2 cents. (with PTC in place of course)

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I ran the numbers, I came out similarly to oz: We could electrolyze water into H2 using wind energy surprisingly cheaply.
It looks more attractive against an honest cost accounting for gasoline.

Technically, there are problems, especially for powering transportation, which is where it is most desparately needed. H2 storage and transport suck. The stuff just isn't dense enough. Fuel cells are a ways off, too.

But even today, we can make H2 locally from electricity (which might be renewably produced) store compressed H2, and burn it in a modified ICE.

This combination might compare favorably with an EV, I don't know.
Doing that, you might well have the option of running the vehicle on that rare and expensive, but very energy dense fuel, gasoline...

- CW

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... Phoenix Project, eh?...Interesting.

4:00 PM  

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