Sowers: Biden hydrogen hub celebration is premature


The Delaware State News Opinion by Maya K. van Rossum was largely correct but left out all the important context needed to fully understand hydrogen as a low-emission energy carrier besides electricity (“Hydrogen hubs are a Biden boondoggle,” Oct. 20).

First, it is a mistake to make premature conclusions. I did two five-minute internet searches on the keyword string, “wikipedia hydrogen economy,” and the separate keyword string, “success hydrogen economy.” I got monumental numbers of links to other relevant website articles. And I will provide a short summary farther below. But I wish people would do their homework before they say something.

Second, however, it did not escape my “baloney detector” that the words, “Biden boondoggle,” were used in the title. This makes me wonder if the author was as much interested in getting on the “anti-Biden bash-fest” train as the “let’s just badmouth hydrogen” train.

Here are just a few important parts of the hydrogen story that van Rossum not only left out but that also contradict her premature conclusion: (1.) Despite hydrogen being expensive now, future development is almost guaranteed to bring the costs down (this is a fact associated with almost all commercializations of innovations); (2.) Government subsidies usually stimulate development, and that development needs to be tried to find out if an idea works (rural electrification, computers, internet, atomic energy, solar panels, TVA and wind generators are just a few historical examples of innovations carried to commercialization by subsidies); (3.) Hydrogen has the energy advantage over electricity, since our power grid upgrade is being delayed by “interconnect logjam queues,” needs for expensive wire upgrades, expensive substation transformer capacity expansions and all manner of local opposition, lawsuits, permit delays, “not in my backyard” neighbors, negative attitudes, etc.

Van Rossum totally left out of her story the part about further hydrogen innovation. Yes, most hydrogen production today is dirty. But those who know more than the “kindergarten story” also know that the next step, sometime in the future, is hydrogen production by electrolysis, fed by renewable electricity. This hydrogen is called green hydrogen. It is clean.

My third internet search used the article title, “Largest green hydrogen projects in the world.” Just one of the links took me to this article: “Nine of the Largest Green Hydrogen Projects 2022.” Here they are: HyDeal Ambition (67 gigawatts, Western Europe), Reckaz (30 GW, Kazakhstan), Western Green Energy Hub (28 GW, Australia), CWP Global’s Aman (30 GW, Mauritania), Green Energy Oman (14 GW), Asian Renewable Energy Hub (14 GW, western Australia), NortH2 (10 GW, the Netherlands), AquaVentus (10 GW, Heligoland, Germany) and unnamed consortium (100 megawatts, Egypt). Many of these large projects are already under construction with completion dates before 2030. Another article said that China will put 50,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2025 (reference: I think this is just a small sample of serious evidence that hydrogen (and green hydrogen, at that) is being taken seriously by almost everybody else in the world.

Arthur E. Sowers


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