The Hydrogen Economy: The Creation of the Worldwide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth by Jeremy Rifkin
An interesting exposť on the enormous importance and unthought-of benefits that would come with an economy driven by hydrogen power instead of fossil fuels. The Hydrogen Economy begins with an explanation of how hydrogen can be plentifully derived from water, using natural energy sources such as wind and solar energy to drive the electrolysi... (See the whole review)
I think the idea of using hydrogen as a battery, to store power, has a lot of merit.
1) It's much more efficient to transfer energy, as hydrogen, over larger distances. This will make it profitable to run large numbers of wind-powered cells a great distance from where the power will be used.
2) Hydrogen can be oxidized in a fuel cell without hot combusition, for quiet, efficient, power. Every house can have a fuel cell, and a hydrogen tank, supplied by hydrogen lines using the existing natural gas lines. We can get rid of the grid, and decentralize the distribution of power. No more blackouts!
3) Hydrogen can be used in an internal combustion engine when large power output is needed.
However, it can't be used to replace oil consumption in the near future, as there simply isn't an easy way to get it. There are only so many wind mills that can be installed, and as long as oil is available, then oil is the more efficient choice for energy.
Presumably Rifkin is talking about a pure hydrogen economy, independent of fuel cells. Fuel cells are the next logical step in the direction of a new energy paradigm as they will help reduce dependence on oil and rely more heavily on natural gas, which is readily available, relatively cheap and less polluting. Reformers on vehicles will eliminate the need for high pressure hydrogen containment.
This technology is available today.
Conflict of interest statement: I presently own stock in the Fuel Cell Corporation.
Jeremy Rifkin is President of the Foundation on Economic Trends, President of the Greenhouse Crisis Foundation and head of the Beyond Beef Coalition. Critics of Rifkin have labeled him "anti-science" and a "professional activist." Indeed, Rifkin seems to have substantial experience as a political activist. During the 1960s and 1970s, he joined the peace movement, serving as the organizer of the 1968 March on the Pentagon and founder of the Citizens Commission (1969), a group established to bring public attention to alleged U.S. war crimes in Vietnam. In 1971, Rifkin established the counter-cultural People's Bicentennial Commission to provide an alternative to official U.S. government plans to celebrate the bicentennial.
By the late 1970s, Rifkin focus shifted to the fledgling biotechnology industry. Although Rifkin possesses no formal training in the sciences, he nonetheless speaks out against biotechnology, the genetic research that could offer cures to diseases such as Sickle Cell Anemia, Alzheimer's and others and has already made possible the development of heartier, more disease-resistant agricultural crops. Rifkin apparently fears that without strict government controls, biotechnology would allow scientists to "play God" and result in Nazi-type attempts to create a master race.
Sorry, I don't know how to turn off the red line breaks.
One of the big problems with Rifkin's analysis is that hydrogen in and of itself is not a power source, and he's dreaming if he thinks wind and solar are going to be effectively used to store hydrogen. A good resource on the physics of why wind and solar won't work is "The Solar Fraud" by Howard Hayden; his website is <a href="http://www.energyadvocate.com/"> The Energey Advocate</a> and the book can be ordered from there.
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