Quick notes on hydrogen

I presented these slides to the Net Impact chapter of the Lundquist College of Business’ Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the University of Oregon.

Hydrogen Half-Hour

These are slides that demand considerable narration, so I’ll quickly make a couple of points here. First, the two-part conceptual challenge with the current hydrogen hype is straightforward but hard to overcome: (1) green hydrogen will, with little doubt, eventually play an important role in highly decarbonized energy economy; and (2) hydrogen, in most applications, is today and will be for years to come expensive and difficult.

In other words, we should definitely throw money at developing electrolyzers, learning from pilot projects, and maybe even siphoning off near-zero-cost renewables at peak moments of wind and sun in order to make green hydrogen. But we should also stay focused on the here and now of the clean energy transition, namely utility-scale renewables and transportation electrification. Support for hydrogen must not slow those vitally important projects.

My former student Rachel Cohen (now at PGE) and I wrote a distantly related piece on EVs and the grid. The link is the challenge of keeping timeframes straight before one slips uncritically into optimism or pessimism.

Second, I smell a rat: Big Oil would like nothing more than for us to get distracted by hydrogen. (I’ll leave it there for now.)

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