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Charley Rattan's picture
World Hydrogen Leader Charley Rattan Associates

UK based offshore wind & hydrogen corporate advisor and trainer; Faculty member World Hydrogen Leaders. Delivering global hydrogen and offshore wind corporate investment advice, business...

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  • Jan 21, 2021
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Hydrogen network for Germany

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 21, 2021

Seems like a chicken and egg situation-- if they're building out the hydrogen grid by 2030, do they expect the hydrogen generation to be there by then? Or is this being built so that the generation sector will have incentive to invest and produce hydrogen starting then? 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 22, 2021

Matt, former Assistant Secretary of Energy Joe Romm, in his 2006 book "The Hype About Hydrogen", uses the same metaphor for the conundrum faced by accepting hydrogen as an automotive fuel.

For drivers to buy fuel-cell vehicles, they'll need an infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations. To convert 50,000 U.S. gasoline stations to use hydrogen as a fuel, oil companies will need hundreds of millions of fuel-cell vehicles to make the $500-billion investment profitable.

Chicken-egg.

But that's not stopping employees of Royal Dutch Shell from jumping on the gravy train. Romm and (undoubtedly) Shell speculate that by the time consumers figure out hydrogen results in even more emissions than either gasoline or natural gas, it will be too late to turn back. Too late to turn back to gasoline/natural gas, and too late to turn back the clock on climate change. And down the hole we go.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 22, 2021

I think early on we saw the same with EVs, not just hydrogen vehicles-- and on a micro level talking to people I still hear echoes of it. They don't want to buy EVs until they see more charging infrastructure around their stomping grounds, but it's not always an easy sell to get public or private money to build out those chargers with the low market penetration of EVs in certain areas. Luckily I think we're overcoming that back and forth with more entities being willing to follow "if you build it, they will come" in building EV chargers.

The chicken-egg situation in this link above doesn't seem to be directly the same because it's less about getting John and Mary to be willing to buy a certain alternative fuel car and more about getting bigger wigs (be they political leaders, regulators, or large potential customers) to invest in hydrogen generation / consumption models before the pipeline transfer has been made. Will be another interesting case study to observe, no doubt!

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 23, 2021

As the owner of three EVs since 2007, I can assure you the necessity of a public charging infrastructure never crosses an owner's mind. Within 3-4 years all the places anyone would need to charge - airports, hotels, shopping malls, train stations, etc. -  had chargers available; otherwise, all charging takes place at home while owners are asleep.

A few times when I've needed to depend on public charging, it wasn't available - all the chargers were being used. Trips are planned accordingly.

"...it's less about getting John and Mary to be willing to buy a certain alternative fuel car and more about getting bigger wigs..."

Lost me there for a second, Matt. If only it were that easy...

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