Meanwhile, as other more sane countries work to increase their renewable energy generation, we in Bushanegger Land want the Hydrogen Highway. We are going to be the first on the planet to drive the fuel cell car in large numbers. It will knock the socks off of all those foreign hybrids.
We are being sold on hydrogen as the ultimate Green energy fuel because it can be made, not only from natural gas, but from water with electricity from renewable resources and since fuel cell cars produce no emissions at all, it is a veritable Green wet dream. Or is it?
Consider this "To replace all the gasoline sold in the U.S. today with hydrogen from electrolysis would require more electricity than is sold in the U.S. today."
And that's just to make the hydrogen. It also takes energy to keep hydrogen in pressurized tanks and to transport it. Hydrogen is not as dense as gasoline. One tanker filled with gasoline can fuel 800 cars. An equivalent size canister of hydrogen will only fuel 80 cars. Think of all the diesel trucks that will be needed to transport the stuff. I know I don't want to see so many more trucks on the road.
And if people are not swayed by the economics there's always the safety factor. Remember that e-mail many of you received/sent warning women that they were more likely to start fires in gasoline stations because they were in the habit of getting back in the car after putting the nozzle in the tank? It turns out that was a hoax because the static electricity generated by sliding across the seat is not nearly enough to ignite gasoline - but it is enough to ignite hydrogen. Ditto for cell phone use.
And this is the one that got me. Once the hydrogen is ignited, the flames are almost invisible. To find the fire you have to walk holding a piece of paper in front of you and watch to see when it burns.
And here's another interesting property of hydrogen - when it reacts with metal it makes it brittle. So brittle pipelines, brittle car parts, brittle containers. Not to mention that hydrogen is the leakiest of gases.
You can download the California Hydrogen Highway Blueprint. It mentions nothing about hydrogen safety issues, but implies that regulations will have to be softened to encourage the plan. It also assumes that hydrogen will be made from renewable energy, but admits that if it were made from our current electric grid, emissions would be more than for a gas car.
An electric car uses one-fourth the electricity that it takes to make enough hydrogen to go the same distance. So are we EVers set to sell everyone on electric cars? No, not really considering the limitations only a highly motivated EVer could love (until the lithium battery is affordable). We want electric cars yes, but America wants options. The option to drive as far as the eye can see across this great nation of ours.
No sooner was this concept coming to light than Toyota started advertising their Prius as the electric car you don't have to plug-in. Whether to subvert Prius Plus efforts or because people still think electric means you have to plug it in, we don't know, but there is something about plugging in a car that just gets that big "deal breaker" sign flashing in people's heads. What is it about plugging in your car? Does the cord coming out of a car remind you of the string on a tampon? Is it a social taboo or just auto-advertising conditioning?
No sir, we do not plug in our cars. We are not homemaker sissies. We do not drive appliances. Or as one of my clients pointed out - the car doesn't stay plugged in, which means you have to manage to remember to plug it in. And that's one more blinkin' thing on your to-do list. Okay yes, I did forget to plug in my car one night because I was waiting until 6 p.m. for off peak hours to begin. And I was so mad the next morning because I couldn't drive it; didn't even have time for a fast 220 volt/2hr charge because I didn't remember until I was ready to leave.
The plug-in hybrid technology will give you the best of both worlds. It's time to fight the anti-plug-in conditioning. Repeat after me. "Yes the Prius is wonderful, but it would be even better if I had the option to plug it in." Just say no to hydrogen. Say yes to a "gas optional" incentive program and show those automakers what we want. This is what Austin, Texas (where 6% of their power is wind generated) is doing with its $1,000 rebates offered to the first 1,000 Austin buyers of plug-in vehicles.
Meanwhile I've been riding my bike a lot lately and feeling very fit.