Probably half the media queries I get concern hydrogen — thanks to my last book, The Hype about Hydrogen. Yesterday’s New York Times Magazine had an exceedingly long article, “The Zero-Energy Solution,” on a solar-hydrogen home. The author refers to me as “an environmental pragmatist,” no doubt because I don’t automatically embrace every environmental solution that comes along, but judge each on its technical and practical merit.
I have written a number of articles arguing that hydrogen has been wildly overhyped as an energy and climate solution, when in fact it holds little promise of being a cost-effective greenhouse gas reduction strategy for at least the first half of the century, if not forever. Since ten years ago I ran the federal office that does hydrogen research, I am one of the go-to guys for a skeptical quote or two.
This article is no exception, and the author accurately writes, Romm “says he believes that the problems of global warming are urgent and that hydrogen technologies are too remote in time to be of any real help.”
Somewhat annoyingly, the author focuses on my concerns about hydrogen safety, which I think are quite genuine for home hydrogen production — but which pale in comparison to the basic technical, cost, and practical considerations for a solar hydrogen home. Still, I stand by every statement, including, “The last thing you want is somebody making hydrogen in his garage.” I did add, though it didn’t make publication, that “I wouldn’t want someone making gasoline in their garage either.”
The article has some hype but is still worth a read, as it presents both sides.