From German trains to South Korean buses, hydrogen is back in the energy picture

(Eco Business, 12 Nov 2018) As the price of renewable energy drops and storage technologies mature, hydrogen fuel is drawing fresh attention.

Jorgo Chatzimarkakis was refueling his hydrogen fuel-cell car at one of the 50-plus refueling stations scattered around Germany when a Tesla driver, who was recharging his own car, approached.

The man was excited to see a hydrogen-powered car in action, and was brimming with questions. Chatzimarkakis, who is secretary general of Hydrogen Europe, was happy to answer them, and the two talked for several minutes.

But by then, the hydrogen car was fully refueled, while the Tesla driver still faced a long wait while his battery recharged.

“This is reality,” says Chatzimarkakis. “Nowadays the fueling stations are ready, the car is ready, I can plan my trip from Switzerland to Denmark and into Norway without any problems.”

The vision of a hydrogen-fueled world has had more near misses than Wile E. Coyote. In 1923, British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane imagined a network of hydrogen-generating windmills powering Britain, but nothing came of it. In 1970, South African-born electrochemist John Bockris first used the term “hydrogen economy” in a speech, and later published a book describing what a solar-hydrogen-powered world might look like. But again, nothing changed. In 2002, American economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin argued that hydrogen could take over from oil and that the future of energy lay in hydrogen-powered fuel cells.

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Eco Business, 12 Nov 2018: From German trains to South Korean buses, hydrogen is back in the energy picture