H2 as energy bridge/Natural gas reserves.

David Walters dwalters at igc.org
Sat Nov 30 18:05:11 MST 2002


Jose is correct. The promise of H2 is not in it's ability to 'generate
electricity' (or mechanical energy), it's that it bridges the problem of
energy storage, something that the folks in the solar and windpower
industries need.

I've debated, publicly, Greens and others, who, without any understanding of
the electrical grid, think Solar and Wind are the holy grail.

Currently Holland and Denmark lead the world in wind power, most if it ocean
based. It's a remarkable achievement and a great example. But...for every
megawatt of power they can produce while the wind is blowing they will need
either of two things:
1. A means of storing the power for the when the WIND DOESN'T BLOW or
2. An equivalent, 'stand by' form of fossil  'on demand' power source for
their grid...or...
They will go black.

IF they can covert, and as Mark and Jose point out, the wind power at a
'near' efficient form H2, then they will be on their way to a truly fossil
free economy. "Efficiency" is an interesting term, and highly relative,
politically charged. IF we had enough solar power or wind power to convert
the excess to H2, since the motive force of the generation is free (mostly),
who cares? One could, in theory, build way to excess, even if the H2
efficiency quotient was very low. It's a question of dedicating resources
and priorities....

In California, where I live, the same holds true, obviously, for solar,
which is way way way more expensive than fossil fuel is. But H2 can be a
bridge, here to, with Solar, if enough solar panels can be built and then
the excess daylight power be converted via electrolysis into H2, stored, and
then burned H2 power gas turbines or other forms of conventional energy
conversion schemes (and maybe fuel cells). But we are really decades away
from this.

Research HERE in the US, both at the university level and the commercial
level on developing H2 energy conversion is quite high and has been going
up. I've conversed with a few advocates at different levels of the H2
economy advocates on this, including some receiving money from petroleum
companies. Go figure?

The other issue not discussed is natural gas, the reserves of which no one
knows since it exists underground virtually everywhere in the world and it's
mostly a question of exploration and engineering needed to exploit it. Rod
Holt, of the US Socialist Workers Organization has done some research on
this and I believe written about it. My cousin, Bob Schatz, a former   high
level natural gas consultant for coal companies, came to similar conclusions
about the availability of natural gas (as it shows up at EVERY area they
pre-drilled for coal mining explorations in North America). His internal
reports on this were fascinating. I work at a nat/gas power plant, and I've
worked at the newer, higher efficient Frame 7 Gas Turbines, too. Amazingly
efficient from the point of view of fossil fuel burning....Of course there
is the issue of 'do we want to use it', which is part of this discussion.

David Walters


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