Hydrogen transport economy would need low carbon energy 'revolution'

Sat 10 January 2004 View all news

To replace petrol and diesel with hydrogen for road transport would require the building of 100,000 wind turbines or 100 nuclear power stations in Britain, according to researchers from Warwick University.

Large quantities of renewable or low carbon energy would be required to produce sufficient hydrogen to power Britain's cars and trucks, according to the report.

However, the study - 'The Arithmetic of Renewable Energy', to be published in Accountancy magazine - concluded that there were still good reasons to consider switching from oil to hydrogen.

"The enormity of the green challenge is not understood," said Jim Oswald. "Many people think that hydrogen is a simple alternative to oil, but in fact it will require a huge investment in either wind farms or nuclear plants."

Commenting on the Oswalds' paper Christian Kjaer, Policy  Director of the European Wind Energy Association, says that large-scale renewable energy production, such as offshore wind power, is an essential precondition for the credible deployment of a sustainable hydrogen economy. Today, 98% of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuel sources.

“Until we reach a level of surplus renewable electricity, cheaper and higher carbon emission reductions can be achieved by renewable electricity sources through the displacing of electricity from fossil fuel power stations, than through the production of hydrogen from renewable energy sources,” observes Kjaer.

Kjaer also challenges the assumptions used in the Oswald’s paper. He says that the largest wind turbines now in operation are 4.5MW – 50% bigger than those used in the calculations – and they will certainly be larger and more efficient by the time hydrogen technology for transport is available.

Related Links

'The Arithmetic of Renewable Energy' article

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