Hydrogen Story Falling Apart

How could anyone be stupid enough to think a max 25% return of energy in / energy out is a viable path forward? Bumper-sticker-level reasoning. If it doesn;t fit on a bumper-sticker, policy-makers and decision-makers can;t understand it. At some point, it was inevitable that some people would wake up.

Rolls-Royce Skeptical on the Future of Hydrogen Planes | OilPrice.com

US hydrogen firm warns it could go bust in 12 months | Windpower Monthly

You mean like almost all gasoline powered internal combustion engines in cars? They have around 25% efficiency.

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Yes of course, but in the case of hydrogen, you are STARTING with usable electricity, then actively THROWING IT AWAY, and pretending it is a solution. That means you need to create 400% more wind and solar than before, JUST TO BREAK EVEN. Is that trivial? 400% more windmills and solar panels?This is why I am convinced, there are very few people in the world these days capable of even simple, valid thinking.

Starting with usable energy is a correct assumption.
But what about the case when the energy is not usable?.
Eg. As commonly happens with Scottish wind energy being curtailed from being allowed onto a saturated grid.

The National grid in the UK has boundary areas
Mostly dividing north south zones

The B6 boundary for example has a limited capacity of 6.3GW across it.

If you still have a turbine in a windy site , you filled all your reservoirs and batteries. You swore at the incompetence of national infrastructure planning then say
Oh F#( it make some H2

See also the work of a French team (in French):

Daniel Fruchart : Nous avons réussi à créer une solution qui, grâce à l’hydrure de magnésium (un matériau recyclable), permet de stocker l’hydrogène sous forme de galettes solides et empilables dans des réservoirs en tubes. Cette solution est bien plus sécuritaire que l’hydrogène sous forme de gaz aujourd’hui qui risque d’exploser quand il est à température ambiante.

Michel Jehan : La compacité volumique de notre hydrogène solide est aussi très intéressante. Si l’on prend un récipient de 1 mètre cube, on pourra mettre l’équivalent de 42 kilogrammes d’hydrogène sous forme de gaz comprimé à 700 bars, 70 kilogrammes d’hydrogène sous forme liquide, et 112 kilogrammes d’hydrogène solide avec notre solution au magnésium.


Daniel Fruchart: We have succeeded in creating a solution which, thanks to magnesium hydride (a recyclable material), makes it possible to store hydrogen in the form of solid and stackable wafers in tube tanks. This solution is much safer than hydrogen in gas form today which risks exploding when it is at room temperature.

Michel Jehan: The volume compactness of our solid hydrogen is also very interesting. If we take a container of 1 cubic meter, we can put the equivalent of 42 kilograms of hydrogen in the form of compressed gas at 700 bars, 70 kilograms of hydrogen in liquid form, and 112 kilograms of solid hydrogen with our magnesium solution.

Explains are on the video:

Hydrogen could also be used for hydrogen aerostats: Info on hydrogen and (tethered) hydrogen aerostats, so for an AWE use.

About hydrogen production:

Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of resources, such as natural gas, nuclear power, biogas and renewable power like solar and wind. The challenge is harnessing hydrogen as a gas on a large scale to fuel our homes and businesses.

Blue hydrogen is produced using natural gas as a feedstock by using one of two primary methods:

  • Steam methane reformation is the most common method for producing bulk hydrogen and accounts for most of the world’s production. This method uses a reformer, which reacts steam at a high temperature and pressure with methane and a nickel catalyst to form hydrogen and carbon monoxide (CO).
  • Autothermal reforming uses oxygen and carbon dioxide (CO2) or steam to react with methane to form hydrogen.

The downside of these two methods is that they produce carbon as a by-product, so carbon capture and storage (CCS) is essential to trap and store this carbon.

Green hydrogen is produced by using electricity to power an electrolyser that splits the hydrogen from water molecules. This process produces pure hydrogen, with no harmful by-products. An added benefit is that, because this method uses electricity, it also offers the potential to divert any excess electricity – which is hard to store (like surplus wind power) – to electrolysis, using it to create hydrogen gas that can be stored for future energy needs.

Hello Rod:
It all sounds good, but making hydrogen is an industrial process. the same extra electricity might be used for a different industrial process that made more efficient use of the original extra electricity.

Here’s a report on a research project to use electrolysis and a fuel cell for energy storage of an off-grid wind and solar system with batteries. The batteries, as always, were the main solution. At the bottom of page 42 of this final report, you can see the efficiency of the hydrogen system was only 17%.


I thought it looked more like 19%, but they were being picky. Getting only 17% of your energy back is throwing away 83% of it.

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Some recent discussion on hydrogen and other energy storage options here:



I think this is not valid logic, because gasoline is so cheap to extract. The energy was there all along.

Handling excess electricity that cant be used for anything else is a similar case though. You can have it for basically free. But it is going to be intermittent, placing limitations on the cost of the energy conversion plant (not running at nominal output very often). So chances are you would rather spend money for consistent electrical power to produce your Hydrogen at a centralized factory (a model that worked so well for coal power plants and other kinds of industry).

To me its impossible to gauge which one will win. I think the answer though is not too interesting. The money involved is likely not very huge.

I dont think Hydrogen alone will supply variable power to the grid, as that would be an expensive way to solve the problem (maybe even compared to the concrete crane)

Advances in technology though can maybe change the picture. From a birds eye perspective there is no reason that Hydrogen production/use must incur 75% losses. That, and if it turns out simple to produce Hydrogen intermittently at small scale

Tallak: Exactly. A hydrogen plant capable of turning electricity into hydrogen, then back to electricity might cost as much as the whole windfarm it purports to “rescue”, and yet only be used far less than 10% of the time. Maybe 5% or less? 2%? Let’s just say it’s 10%. Now your 17% has dropped down to 1.7%. So you’re going to construct, house, then maintain a power plant that will only increase total output of another power plant, by 1.7%. Makes no economic sense. Imagine if it were your house, powered by your own wind turbine. Let’s say the utility couldn’t take your extra electricity a few days out of the year. And let’s say someone suggested to you that you SPEND YOUR OWN MONEY to buy an electrolysis system, plus a compressor, and a storage tank, plus a fuel cell to get 17% of the electricity back, A FEW DAYS OUT OF THE YEAR. You’d say “What are you, insane???” You’d immediately reject spending such a huge amount of good money to increase your own output by maybe 1.7%. Makes no sense whatsoever. You’d be better off buying a huge amount of Christmas lights and using them as a dump load, so all your neighbors could enjoy the light show. Or just stop producing a few hours or days per year! It can only sound good if you are talking about spending someone else’s money, but it will really be your money, through subsidies to make it happe4n and you would pay for it eventually, in higher rates, taxes, etc. It would be a huge waste of resources! Probably increasing a total carbon footprint and increasing “global warming(!)”


Since we are still in the AWE domain (at least I yet believe it), let’s think of hydrogen as a gas lighter than air and relatively economical and available by all kinds of industries, rather than as a means of storage.

This is perhaps one of the rare possibilities for lifting conventional wind turbines or with rope-drive transmission (like @Kitewinder Kiwee), if of course this is possible given the difficulty of managing both the aerostat and the suspended turbines.


Pierre: I just receved an email about “green” hydrogen and AWE. in this case, “AWE” refers to “alkaline water electrolyzers”. The sender is the same old group (Peter Harrop?) trying to charge people thousands of dollars to read their “reports” on “breakthrough technologies”. here;s the email, below:
|### Annick Garrington|9:43 AM (13 minutes ago)||

| — | — | — |
|to Doug


If you have difficulty viewing this mail, please click here or paste this link into your browser: IDTechEx Email: Material Innovation to Drive the Water Electrolyzer Market

Dear Doug,

I hope you are well.

Chingis Idrissov, Technology Analyst at IDTechEx, has recently published the below article. We thought that this would be of interest to you.

This article follows the release of the new IDTechEx report, “Materials for Green Hydrogen Production 2024-2034: Technologies, Players, Forecasts”. Sample pages are available for this report, please do let me know if you would like to receive these.

Chingis Idrissov will also be presenting a free-to-attend webinar on the topic on Tuesday 12 December 2023 - Material Innovations in Electrolyzers for Green Hydrogen Production. Details for this can be found towards the end of this article.

Material Innovation to Drive the Water Electrolyzer Market

In an era marked by a global shift towards sustainable energy solutions, the hydrogen industry is at the forefront of this transformative wave. Green hydrogen, produced through water electrolysis-powered renewable energy, stands out as a key solution for decarbonizing sectors where direct electrification remains a challenge. This pivot is an essential step towards reducing emissions in heavy industries, such as petroleum refining, and transportation sectors like maritime shipping. Governments and companies worldwide are now setting ambitious targets to ramp up green hydrogen production, highlighting its potential to enhance energy security and unlock new market opportunities.

At the core of the green hydrogen surge is the continuous innovation in electrolyzer technology. Electrolyzers, the devices responsible for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, rely heavily on advanced materials for their electrodes, membranes, and catalysts. These components are critical for optimizing efficiency, durability, and overall performance. Innovations in material science, such as the development of more robust membranes or efficient catalysts, play a pivotal role in reducing costs, increasing lifespan, and minimizing the use of rare, expensive materials. As the demand for green hydrogen escalates, the progress in material technology becomes ever more crucial. However, it is not just about creating more effective electrolyzers. It also ensures these systems are sustainable, scalable, and accessible to pave the way for a truly green hydrogen economy.

IDTechEx’s new report, “Materials for Green Hydrogen Production 2024-2034: Technologies, Players, Forecasts”, delves into the current and prospective materials and components utilized in the four main water electrolyzer technologies. It also covers production methods, commercial activities, key industry players, and major innovations across all electrolyzer stack components.

Alkaline water electrolyzer (AWE): Innovation with widely available materials

Alkaline water electrolyzers, a time-tested and robust technology, function using a liquid alkaline solution, usually KOH, and a porous diaphragm to separate the half-cell chambers. Their reliance on readily available materials, such as nickel and stainless steel, is a trend expected to continue. Presently, AWE systems are categorized into finite-gap and zero-gap configurations, with the industry increasingly favoring the latter. This preference is due to the inclusion of porous transport layers (PTLs), which significantly boost efficiency and gas transport properties.

Innovation remains a driving force in the realm of AWE systems, with manufacturers exploring new frontiers in electrode coatings and catalysts. These advancements aim to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of this established technology. Additionally, there is a growing focus on refining stack designs to facilitate more responsive gas evolution. Such innovations are crucial for enabling better integration with renewable energy sources and optimizing green hydrogen production. While many companies have started producing stacks internally, the dependency on external suppliers for several components continues. This interdependence presents opportunities for further innovation, particularly in advancing catalysts and evolving cell configurations to enhance the capabilities of AWE systems.

Proton exchange membrane electrolyzers (PEMEL): Advancing efficiency with reduced precious metal use

Proton exchange membrane electrolyzer (PEMEL) cell components. Source: IDTechEx

Proton exchange membrane electrolyzers (PEMEL) are gaining significant traction for their high efficiency, compact design, and adaptability with fluctuating renewable energy sources. While there is a movement towards standardizing materials in PEMEL stacks, innovation is far from stagnant, particularly in anode catalyst development. Recent breakthroughs include catalysts that maintain high catalytic activity while significantly reducing iridium usage, thus lowering the material cost per kilowatt (kW) and enhancing overall affordability. More importantly, the adoption of such innovations is critical to the success of PEMEL, as there are many concerns that its potential will be limited by future iridium supply.

Other innovations within PEMEL technology are diverse and impactful. For instance, advancements in thinning the proton exchange membranes contribute to improved efficiency, while innovative coatings for titanium bipolar plates enhance durability and reduce reliance on precious metals. These developments, along with advanced commercial PEMEL designs, underscore the potential for significant improvements in stack performance. Novel coatings and manufacturing methods, particularly for the catalyst-coated membrane (CCM), are at the forefront of these enhancements, promising a new era of cost-effective and efficient PEMEL technology.

Anion exchange membrane electrolyzers (AEMEL): Merging the benefits of AWE and PEMEL

The anion exchange membrane electrolyzer (AEMEL) is a growing technology that aims to harness the best of both alkaline and PEM technologies. AEMEL seeks to blend the material abundance of the AWE with the high-efficiency characteristic of the PEMEL. This technology is experiencing rapid growth and innovation, exemplified by companies like Enapter, which are pioneering commercial megawatt-scale systems.

Being a relatively young technology, the materials are not as standardized as in AWE and PEMEL. Therefore, there is significant potential for innovation with AEMEL, with academic and commercial research concentrated on advancing membranes and catalysts within the technology. This aspect not only fuels its innovation potential but also strategically places AEMEL to potentially revolutionize the landscape of electrolyzer technologies with its unique potential blend of stability, efficiency, and material accessibility.

Solid oxide electrolyzer cells (SOEC): Ceramic innovation at high temperatures

Solid oxide electrolyzer cells (SOEC) represent a relatively nascent technology in the electrolysis landscape, with a smaller market presence compared to AWE and PEMEL. However, SOEC is gaining significant momentum through shared innovations with the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) sector. The interchangeability between SOFC and SOEC stacks, particularly in their use of similar materials, is a key advantage. While certain ceramic components have already been established in the technology, the development of new electrode-electrolyte assemblies in SOECs remains a dynamic area of innovation. This includes considerable variations in cell design and material use among different stack manufacturers. These range from metal- to electrode-supported types, each having its own advantages and incorporating a variety of ceramic materials.

One of the key challenges in SOEC is the thermal compatibility of different materials. This has caused advancement in the other stack components, such as interconnects and sealants. New materials and coatings improve thermal compatibility as well as reduce degradation of the cell components. Overall, there is a wide range of materials used in SOEC stacks, which not only underscores the diversity in the technology but also emphasizes the potential for material innovation in these high-temperature electrolyzers. The evolving landscape of SOEC presents exciting possibilities for advancing electrolysis technology through novel ceramic materials and innovative cell configurations.

Market outlook & strategic insights

The electrolyzer component market is poised for significant expansion, with IDTechEx’s projections estimating its market value to reach an impressive US$31.7 billion by 2034. This growth is predominantly driven by the rapidly evolving green hydrogen industry, where electrolyzers play a crucial role. In the new report “Materials for Green Hydrogen Production 2024-2034: Technologies, Players, Forecasts” by IDTechEx, a thorough analysis is presented on the current and future materials and components used in the four principal water electrolyzer technologies: alkaline water electrolyzer (AWE), proton exchange membrane electrolyzer (PEMEL), anion exchange membrane electrolyzer (AEMEL), and solid oxide electrolyzer (SOEC).

The report offers an insightful breakdown of stack costs by component, focusing on AWE, PEMEL, and SOEC stacks. Comprehensive lists of electrolyzer stack, component, and material suppliers are available, with case studies of key commercial innovations in the industry. Moreover, it provides granular 10-year market forecasts, quantifying the demand for materials and components in tonnes, square meters (m2), and US$ million annually. This report provides a deep insight into the current trends and prospects of the electrolyzer market, highlighting key opportunities and the direction of industry growth.

To find out more about the new IDTechEx report “Materials for Green Hydrogen Production 2024-2034: Technologies, Players, Forecasts”, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/GreenHydrogen.

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Material Innovations in Electrolyzers for Green Hydrogen Production

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Key takeaways from this webinar:

  • Introduction to the hydrogen economy and water electrolyzer technologies
  • Overview of incumbent electrolyzer materials and components
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3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Slow Chat II

I’ve been reading about such schemes for storing hydrogen since, I think, the 1970’s or 1980’s, in magazines like Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, maybe other sources. Before I even read the article or watched the video, I already knew the hydrogen is extracted by heating the metal. That’s always been the case. So the BASIC idea, in SOME FORM, is very old, and for whatever reason, has never caught on. Could it be just one more case of “All Ya Gotta Do Is…”? Why isn’t everyone storing hydrogen like this, after all these years? Hmmm…

I remember a couple of decades ago, a very smart friend of mine, a PhD chemist, could not stop talking up the concept of “zinc-air batteries”. Everything he said seemed to make sense. He knew the numbers, from a chemical standpoint. They were supposed to power cars. Advantage: half of the “battery” was the ambient air! Sounded pretty convincing. It may still be a good idea for all I know.

I guess that was before someone figured out that a half-ton of the batteries in their laptop might be easier for powering cars.

Since then, we went through a phase where there was a lot of publicity around “compressed-air cars”. Nevermind that the numbers couldn’t possibly work out - that doesn’t matter when we’re in a state of mind-control insanity. One major supposed compressed-air car project was based in France, if memory serves. I remember seeing quite a few articles about the concept. It was supposed to be “the future”. Where is a compressed-air car today? Oh well, so much for “press-release breakthroughs”… Is there a lesson to take note of, once again? :slight_smile:

Yes Tallak: This, to me, seems like one more case of a further cascade of “all-ya-gotta-do-is” thinking. It all started with the cost of fuel. And the “fact” that we had “run out” of fossil fuels, decades ago. We were told “all-ya-gotta-do-is” build wind turbines and solar everywhere. A few rational minds pointed out, the whole time, that the inclusion of such intermittent power sources would require a backup power source, essentially doubling the effective cost of, say, a windfarm, since you’d need to match it with, say, a gas turbine plant for all those times when the wind wasn;t blowing.

Now we’re at the NEXT stage of “all-ya-gotta-do-is” thinking:
“All-ya-gotta-do-is” store the energy so we can use it later! That means “uncreate” the energy, then “re-create” that same energy, again, meaning we’ve made things three (3) times as difficult and potentially 3x as expensive.

Meanwhile, even the first “all-ya-gotta-do-is” step is having problems. Siemens Energy is asking for 7 billion Euros in rescue money, because their wind turbines had to be built so cheaply to fit the narrative that they are falling apart. The whole wind turbie industry is in trouble. Projects are being abandoned.
But, don’t worry, cuz, “all-ya-gotta-do-is” uncreate the wind energy, and then re-create it! No problem. It will be as simple as AWE was going to be! :slight_smile:

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Sorry I guess it was $16 billion (Euros) they need. Wow, that’s a lot of money down the drain!
All these “answers” seem to be dependent on “someone else” paying for them, but that “someone else” in the end will always be us.

Anyway, that supposedly “cheap” electricity is what you are up against with AWE, which, of course, was supposed to be cheaper than those dreaded “windtowers”.

This article talks about hydrogen for shipping. One scientist claims H2 has no place in shipping, rather batteries should be used for short distance hops (eg ferries). Another person claims liquid H2 could be used for long distance hops.

It probably needs your favorite translation tool (ChatGPT, google translate)

I would remind anyone, almost regardless of the details of any specific application (leaving some room for specific favorable niche applications), hydrogen is by far the least-efficient form of energy storage commonly discussed! You are lucky to get back even 25% of the energy input! Usually much less. It’s one more clean energy “breakthrough” that “sounds fantastic” until you examine the nitty-gritty details! :slight_smile:

(Although there IS a pretty well-known, and highly successful, carrier for hydrogen fuel, and that is a chain of carbon atoms!)

In the Conclusion:

More fundamentally, hydrogen, green or otherwise, is not a useful dispatchable energy resource
because it requires more energy to produce than it can provide. That is an immutable thermodynamic fact. Barring the discovery of large quantities of elemental hydrogen on earth that can be extracted at low cost, it simply makes no sense to develop such net-energy sinks, whether or not they are “emissions-free.”

There would perhaps remain a marginal use for inflating certain AWES (and also other aerostats for targeted uses) if they exist.

The Manhattan Institute is a bad source. Just by skimming this text yourself that becomes obvious. This bit for example:

Or for a third party write-up of their position on climate change: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research - DeSmog

The quote you gave also can be said to about any storage technology, so is meaningless.

Skimming the text, I see a graph on EROI, not including that of renewables for some reason. Here is something on EROI: Slow Chat - #828 by Windy_Skies

I’d pick better sources. With this one you have to question everything.

If you are interested in hydrogen, I’d look into how effective electrolysis is getting and if there are alternatives to electrolysis. This might be a good start:

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I also conclude that this source is likely poor because common sense says it would make sense sometimes to produce H2 even for some niche marginal markets. And if you care about global warming its obvious this would be made with renewable energy not some oil based product.

Disclaimer I did not read nor do I need to from what I saw. life is too short

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