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'The most dumb factor': Elon Musk dismisses hydrogen as device for vitality storage

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Elon Musk has a historical past of expressing sturdy opinions about hydrogen and hydrogen gasoline cells. A number of years in the past, when the topic got here up throughout a dialogue with reporters on the Automotive News World Congress, the electrical automobile magnate described hydrogen gasoline cells as “extremely silly.”

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has reiterated his skepticism about hydrogen’s function within the deliberate shift to a extra sustainable future, describing it as “the most dumb thing I could possibly imagine for energy storage.” 

During an interview on the Financial Times Future of the Car summit on Tuesday, Musk was requested if he thought hydrogen had a task to play in accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels.

“No,” he replied. “I really can’t emphasize this enough — the number of times I’ve been asked about hydrogen, it might be … it’s well over 100 times, maybe 200 times,” he mentioned. “It’s important to understand that if you want a means of energy storage, hydrogen is a bad choice.”

Expanding on his argument, Musk went on to state that “gigantic tanks” can be required to carry hydrogen in liquid type. If it have been to be saved in gaseous type, “even bigger” tanks can be wanted, he mentioned.

Described by the International Energy Agency as a “versatile energy carrier,” hydrogen has a various vary of functions and may be deployed in sectors comparable to business and transport.

In 2019, the IEA mentioned hydrogen was “one of the leading options for storing energy from renewables and looks promising to be a lowest-cost option for storing electricity over days, weeks or even months.”

The Paris-based group added that each hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels have been in a position to “transport energy from renewables over long distances — from regions with abundant solar and wind resources, such as Australia or Latin America, to energy-hungry cities thousands of kilometres away.”

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Musk has a historical past of expressing sturdy opinions about hydrogen and hydrogen gasoline cells.

A number of years in the past, when the topic got here up throughout a dialogue with reporters on the Automotive News World Congress, the electrical automobile magnate described hydrogen gasoline cells as “extremely silly.”

In June 2020 he tweeted “fuel cells = fool sells,”  including in July of that yr: “Hydrogen fool sells make no sense.” Judging by his feedback this week, he stays unconvinced about hydrogen.

“It does not naturally occur on Earth, so you either have to split water with electrolysis or crack hydrocarbons,” he advised the Financial Times.

“When you’re cracking hydrocarbons, you really haven’t solved the fossil fuel problem, and the efficiency of electrolysis is poor.”

Today, the vast majority of hydrogen manufacturing is predicated on fossil fuels. Another technique of manufacturing consists of utilizing electrolysis, with an electrical present splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen.

If the electrical energy used on this course of comes from a renewable supply comparable to wind or photo voltaic then some name it inexperienced or renewable hydrogen.

Hydrogen tasks utilizing electrolysis have attracted curiosity from main corporations and enterprise leaders lately, however it might seem Musk just isn’t a fan.

“The efficiency of electrolysis is … poor,” he advised the Financial Times. “So you really are spending a lot of energy to … split hydrogen and oxygen. Then you have to separate the hydrogen and oxygen and pressurize it — this also takes a lot of energy.”

“And if you have to liquefy … hydrogen, oh my God,” he continued. “The amount of energy required to … make hydrogen and turn it into liquid form is staggering. It is the most dumb thing that I could possibly imagine for energy storage.”

Different viewpoints

Musk could also be dismissive about hydrogen’s function within the vitality transition, however different influential voices are a bit of extra optimistic. These embrace Anna Shpitsberg, who’s deputy assistant secretary for vitality transformation on the U.S. Department of State.

During a current panel dialogue moderated by CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, Shpitsberg known as hydrogen “a game-changing technology that speaks to a variety of other sources … because it can underpin nuclear, it can underpin gas, it can underpin renewables, it can clean a good portion of it and so can CCUS [carbon capture utilization and storage].”

Elsewhere, February noticed Michele DellaVigna, Goldman Sachs’ commodity fairness enterprise unit chief for the EMEA area, spotlight the vital function he felt it might have going ahead.

“If we want to go to net-zero we can’t do it just through renewable power,” he mentioned.

“We need something that takes today’s role of natural gas, especially to manage seasonality and intermittency, and that is hydrogen,” DellaVigna argued, happening to explain hydrogen as “a very powerful molecule.”

The key, he mentioned, was to “produce it without CO2 emissions. And that’s why we talk about green, we talk about blue hydrogen.”

Blue hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced utilizing pure fuel — a fossil gasoline — with the CO2 emissions generated through the course of captured and saved. There has been a charged debate across the function blue hydrogen can play within the decarbonization of society.

“Whether we do it with electrolysis or we do it with carbon capture, we need to generate hydrogen in a clean way,” DellaVigna mentioned. “And once we have it, I think we have a solution that could become, one day, at least 15% of the global energy markets which means it will be … over a trillion dollar market per annum.”



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