Wind power has been uneconomical compared to coal or hydro. Yet if newer slow-turn turbines are used and they are placed out of major bird migration routes, these former endangered-bird-choppers can be environmentally responsible power generators, producing no greenhouse gasses like coal, not destroying thousands of acres of habitat like dams or solar power, and not having a dangerous waste element like nuclear power.
Hydrogen is a really clean way of storing energy for use–nearly as efficient as oil. You can power cars and trucks from it. One problem is that you can either produce it from chemical reactions with fossil fuels–producing greenhouse gasses–or you can use energy to electrolyze hydrogen–and that usually requires some environmentally harmful energy source.
But, as Wired’s Autopia relays, General Motors has figured out that producing hydrogen via electrolosis powered by wind solves a couple of problems. The power need not be as cheap as coal if it is producing hydrogen instead of powering lights. The hydrogen can be made without creating the kind of problem it’s meant to solve–greenhouse gasses and other pollution.
One additional thing they didn’t mention is, as long as you build transportation infrastructure, you can place these hydrogen-producing wind farms in the kind of godforsaken places that don’t have a ton of wildlife (or people, a fatal flaw when producing energy for municipal consumption). As long as it has a source of water (or you can pump it in), you can produce hydrogen which can power the vehicles to transport the rest of the hydrogen for use in our cars.
We do it with oil wells, after all, so why not wind farms producing something other than straight electricity?
For those worried about peak oil, another piece of the solution to the question of “what next?” may have just fallen into place.
2 thoughts on “Two Birds, One Stone – Wind Power Producing Hydrogen”
The big issue that we have to worry about with hydrogen is storage and transport. It’s devilishly difficult to keep contained. Since it is essentially just a proton and an electron, hydrogen gas can slip through holes in the molecules that make up most of our seals – plastics and rubbers. It can even be absorbed by the metal of containers, and escape that way.
One solution might be to use the energy from windmills and solar to both hydrolyze water and then to combine the H2 with atmospheric C02 to create storable hydrogen in hydrocarbon form with no net C02 emissions. It might be that some other chemical storage would make more sense.
OHMIGOODNESS! I just found your blog – now I can know more about you than I know about myself. It’s such a fluke – I typed “I’m 37. I’m not old” into google to see if I could find a clip (I found the text, but nowhere the actual clip!) in order to say it, with verve, one more time before I turn 38 on Monday. And there you were!
More soon by e-mail,
P.S. Oh yes, hydrogen, wind power, bird safety. Just to make sure I touched on important topics.