Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A problem of scale

It would take 100,000 wind turbines to produce the hydrogen necessary to power all the vehicles in the U. K. alone. Here's what that might look like:
...about 100,000 wind turbines would be required to provide all the hydrogen necessary to run the UK's road vehicles. If these were sited offshore, there would be a 10km-deep strip of turbines encircling the entire coastline of the British Isles.
The Independent explains why the utopian dreams of a hydrogen economy run on renewable energy will not be scalable anytime soon. The alternative would be to use coal or natural gas to make hydrogen. But, this would cause more pollution that it is supposed to abate. In addition, we'd get less energy out of the hydrogen than we use to make it. It would be better just to use the natural gas and coal to produce energy directly.

Maybe nuclear power could be used to make hydrogen, you say. Setting aside the waste and cost problems, it would take 100 new nuclear reactors to fuel Great Britain's vehicles alone. (For comparison, there are only about 100 reactors now operating in all of the United States, and those were built over several decades.)

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