Friday, November 4, 2016

Hydrogen Power: Only As Clean As Its Energy Source

Photo via Alstom
Germany has unveiled a hydrogren-fueled train that it's claiming is zero emissions. It might be! It could especially be progress on the vast majority of American rail lines that aren't currently electrified. But hydrogen is only as clean as the power used to make it, and most of the coverage seems to be ignoring that.

Hydrogen fuel isn't mined or collected directly - it's basically a battery loaded with power from other direct fuel sources. If it's solar or wind, it's zero-emissions! If it's coal or oil, you might as well just use coal or oil to power the train.

Every conversation about hydrogren I've ever had:
PERSON: It's hydrogen-powered! It's zero emissions!
ME: Hydrogren is not a fuel source. It's basically a battery. It's as clean as the power that was used to make the hydrogen fuel. What was used to make the hydrogen?
PERSON: Uh, I don't know.
ME: Was it coal?
PERSON: Maybe?
ME: So it could be a train powered by coal? Like the first locomotives they had in the 1800s?
PERSON: Man, you are depressing AF.
ME: It's a curse. (goes back to blogging like this)

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