There is a lot of interest in Hydrogen as associations and lobbyists gear up to access State and Federal funds to go with private investments in the space.
A major open question is what role Hydrogen will play as California moves to decarbonize. One way to begin to think about the issue is to divide it up into three different but related areas: Production, End Users, and Myths, Facts, and Doubts.
Plug Power: Plug Power is a company that produces hydrogen fuel cells for a variety of applications, including forklifts, stationary power systems, and drones. The company also produces hydrogen through electrolysis.
Ballard Power Systems: Ballard Power Systems is a Canadian company that produces hydrogen fuel cells for a variety of applications, including buses, trucks, and trains. The company also produces hydrogen through electrolysis.
Air Products and Chemicals: Air Products is one of the largest producers of hydrogen fuel in the world, with a global network of hydrogen production plants. The company produces hydrogen through steam methane reforming, which is a process that uses natural gas as a feedstock. Air Products is also investing in developing technologies for producing hydrogen from renewable sources.
Linde: Linde is a global industrial gases company that produces hydrogen through steam methane reforming and electrolysis, which is a process that uses renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Toyota and Hyundai: Invest heavily in developing fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The companies are also involved in developing hydrogen refueling infrastructure and investing in hydrogen production technologies.
Hydrogen End Users:
Industrial companies: Companies such as Air Liquide and Linde produce hydrogen for industrial applications, while companies such as ArcelorMittal are exploring the use of hydrogen in their steelmaking processes.
Energy companies: Energy companies are also exploring the use of hydrogen as a clean energy source. For example, Royal Dutch Shell is investing in hydrogen infrastructure and exploring the use of hydrogen in power generation.
Transportation companies: One of the main end users of hydrogen fuel is transportation companies, including automotive manufacturers and shipping companies. Companies such as Toyota, Hyundai, and Nikola Motor Company produce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, while shipping companies such as A.P. Moller-Maersk are exploring the use of hydrogen fuel for their vessels.
Individual consumers: Although still relatively uncommon, there are individual consumers who use hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for personal transportation. Companies such as Toyota and Hyundai produce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that are available for purchase by individual consumers.
Hydrogen Myths, Facts and Doubts:
Cost: Currently, producing hydrogen from renewable sources is more expensive than producing it from fossil fuels. This means that, at present, hydrogen is not cost-competitive with other forms of energy, such as natural gas or electricity.
Safety: Hydrogen is a highly flammable gas and requires careful handling and storage to ensure safety. This has raised concerns about the safety of hydrogen infrastructure, particularly in densely populated areas.
Infrastructure: Developing the infrastructure for producing, storing, and transporting hydrogen is a major challenge. Hydrogen is a lightweight gas and requires special storage and transportation methods, such as high-pressure tanks or cryogenic storage. In addition, there are currently relatively few hydrogen refueling stations available, which limits the use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Efficiency: The efficiency of hydrogen fuel cells is currently lower than that of traditional combustion engines or batteries. This means that hydrogen fuel cells require more hydrogen to produce the same amount of energy as other forms of energy, which increases costs and limits the range of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Greenhouse gas emissions: While hydrogen is a clean-burning fuel, producing it from fossil fuels can result in significant greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the production of hydrogen from renewable sources requires significant amounts of energy, which can result in greenhouse gas emissions if that energy comes from fossil fuels.