My high school years fell between the two faux-oil-crises of the 1970’s, giving my almost-adult mind a potent lesson in the fragility of our society and its dependence on fossil oil. During my research into alternatives to oil I had this idea about the hydrogen cycle, and went through the physics formulas for the energy gains and losses as you split water into oxygen+hydrogen, and recombine it back into water. My hopes for a clean energy future were dashed when the calculations showed there was a net energy loss in that scenario. While fuel cells are darlings in the technology world, I remember this as I read the hype surrounding fuel cells and the hydrogen economy. A recent study from Lux Research says Hydrogen Fuel Cell adoption will be hobbled by high cost and will be only a $3 billion market in 2030.
What’s thought to be the limiting factor is the capital cost of hydrogen fuel cells, not hydrogen supply.
Here’s what they mean by that:
the cost of hydrogen impacts fuel cell market adoption, hydrogen fuel
accounts for only 35% of the total cost of ownership (TCO) for
stationary applications and 21% of the TCO for mobile applications, with
fuel cell capital costs and membrane replacement costs making up most
of the difference.
Hydrogen generation accounts for less than 33% of the cost at the pump. The costs of hydrogen compression, storage, and distribution make up the majority of the cost of hydrogen, offering the greatest opportunities for improvement and innovation.
Source: Lux Research
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