Our planet is being bombarded every day with pollutants coming from our factories, power plants, and cars. These activities are causing the climate to deteriorate at an alarming rate. We need to move to a cleaner, more sustainable source of energy. When we think of clean energy for our cars, electric cars with a battery comes to mind. But there is another source we can use to power our cars and trucks. That source is hydrogen.
Hydrogen power is a cleaner alternative to gasoline we use today. At one time it was predicted to be the future of energy. Hydrogen received its debut in 1845 when Sir William Grove, an English scientist, and judge, created a battery out of the gas. For this achievement, he was given the title “Father of the Fuel Cell.” This was over 170 years ago, and yet the technology still hasn’t reached its full potential.
This doesn’t mean any of the hydrogen projects were failures. There was a small airplane powered by hydrogen that flew over 500 miles. However, with more cars using lithium-ion batteries instead of hydrogen, a cleaner future people dream of using hydrogen power may not happen anytime soon. However, this hasn’t stopped people in Europe from investing in hydrogen technology.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, countries in Europe are increasing in green hydrogen programs. Back in July, Germany announced a national hydrogen strategy reserving $8.2 billion for investments in new businesses and research in hydrogen power and $2.3 billion for creating international partnerships. The strategy was announced by the economy minister Peter Altmaier in Berlin. With this leap in hydrogen investing, Germany wants to be the leader in hydrogen technologies.
The United States on the other hand is dragging its feet. There hasn’t been a hydrogen strategy released on the national level at this time. Their investments in hydrogen power have been small. The Energy Department said they will spend $64 million on research and development, and $15 million will be reserved for lowering the cost of green hydrogen. Compared to Germany’s $8.2 billion investment on hydrogen power, that’s a tiny amount.
The reason for the U.S. slow progress on green hydrogen, according to Thomas Kock Blank, senior principal of industry and heavy transport at the Rocky Mountain Institute, is due to the availability of natural gas. Even though it produces less emission than coal and oil, there’re still other environmental risks associated with it. Since its abundant, cheap, and accessible within the borders, the U.S. doesn’t feel the need to invest much in hydrogen.
Europe’s landscape is more suitable for hydrogen power. They lack the reserves of natural gas, making it a need to find alternative sources for energy. There’re also areas in the North Sea where offshore wind turbines can be placed. This will make producing hydrogen power more economical. With Europe’s heavy investment in hydrogen power, they will be the main players in the market leaving the U.S. behind.