On Hydrogen

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This is Elon Musk's two minute youtube diatribe against hydrogen:


Marcin's commentary:

Clearly hydrogen is a winner. Lovins I believe puts all of Musk's arguments to rest. I think every single argument that Musk makes in that 2 minutes is either not true (as Lovins rebuts in his 20 Hydrogen Myths paper) or ill-posed. When I look at the arguments from both sides - the Lovins one makes sense and is more rigorous. For example, compression is not needed when you use high pressure electrolyzers - you get compressed gas without compressors. And the inefficiency? At 67% efficient (a la Wikipedia) for current state of art and 94% theoretical limit - the 'inefficiency' claim on electrolysis is without merit. In electric cars, if charge controller/charge/discharge/motor controller/ losses of an electric drive system (if 95% efficient each) - get your electric efficiency down to 80% just in those steps. But the efficiency argument is completely moot from the systems perspective, as we have 10,000 more power from the sun than we use today. I think the simplest system will win (when efficiency comes into vogue), and batteries are not simple from cradle to grave. But water to water is, and I am talking here about simple electrolysis and ICEs - as I don't believe fuel cells are even required nor particularly desirable as they are sensitive and rely on strategic resources generally. PV today is 25 cents per watt for the panels (Sunelec.com - 4 times lower than about 2 years ago. Moreover, as Musk says - methane or propane is better than hydrogen - and to add to that - solar-derived synthetic fuels + biofuels can easily fill the gap after oil - an argument that shows little indication that electric will replace fuels. On specific energy density, compressed hydrogen is about 200x as dense as lithium ion batteries - so Musk's energy density point is not true. Even readily-generated DIY hydrogen at 30 bar is about 10x more energy dense than lithium ion batteries. From first principles, batteries just do not stand up in any way to chemical fuels, nor do they hold much water on environmental aspects when compared to regeneratively-produced chemical fuels (biofuels and synthetic fuels). From my perspective, the confusion is based on basic science illiteracy in the population. But I do admit that regeneratively-derived fuels are totally contrarian - and I think that is simply because people haven't thought about the issue too deeply. Anyway, I've been following Lovins since my Princeton days, where I first learned about renewable energy and became a huge fan of solar - with a brief detour to direct solar (fusion) - and now returning to 'indirect solar.'