by Viv Forbes, Executive Director, The Saltbush Club, ©2020

Image: Sharon Rondeau

(Feb. 14, 2020) — Dr Finkel (Australia’s Chief Scientist) is wrong – hydrogen will never be a “hero fuel source”.

Australia has no gas wells producing hydrogen – every bit of hydrogen we use must be generated by electrolysis of water or manufactured from natural gas or coal. These processes consume energy some of which could be recovered by using the hydrogen as a fuel to power cars or generate electricity. We could use solar or wind energy to generate hydrogen, but then they cannot generate electricity for consumers, industry and the millions of electric cars our political scientist also supports.

Burning hydrogen fuel is not even a zero-sum energy game – it is a negative-sum game, Dr Finkel. We can never get back the energy used to make the hydrogen.

And as for using hydrogen as a fuel for long distance trucks how does he propose to confine this dangerous, elusive, hard-to-handle, explosive gas without a complete replacement of everything in our massive diesel-powered transport industry including service stations, fuel lines, tanks and motors?

It will create jobs, but only while the sucker cash lasts.

Hydrogen is the fuel of the sun, but not a net source of energy for Earth.

Viv Forbes
Washpool  Qld


Viv Forbes has qualifications in Geology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths and a long history of managing and analysing energy and industrial companies.

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  1. I have always thought that using a photovoltaic panel to hydrolyze water would be the cheapest way to generate hydrogen. But there are claims that extracting hydrogen from natural gas wells is even cheaper and will always be cheaper. The industry is constantly working to lower production costs. That said, the final word certainly has not been written on photovoltaic technology either.

    Decades ago, there was a 60 Minutes piece on a company in Utah which has worked on developing safe storage of hydrogen for cars. There are chemicals which have an extremely high sponge-like capacity for absorbing hydrogen. A canister of this, when shot with a rifle, does not explode or burn. Still, as usual, the economics are too expensive. Maybe someday.