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Could hydrogen replace fossil fuels?

When considering which form of energy is going to replace fossil fuels, hydrogen is often the fuel that people think of.

Hydrogen fuel has always been seen as a promising alternative to fossil fuels because it burns clean, having no negative impact on the environment.
In-fact, the process that makes it - an electrolysis reaction that splits hydrogen and oxygen from water molecules - puts clean oxygen straight back into the air.

However, there has always been one huge problem with hydrogen.
To cause those necessary electrolysis reactions on a economic and industrial scale, you need to use a lot of methane, which is a fossil fuel itself.

Depending on a fossil fuel to make a «green» fuel defeats the purpose of the entire process.

Past research has found other viable methods for hydrogen production.
Platinum, for instance, can be a powerful catalyst for electrolysis that is environmentally friendly.
However, using platinum is not exactly cost effective.

Now, as the world plans economic recovery efforts after the coronavirus pandemic, and trillions of dollars and euro are readied to invest in build-back-better approaches, an increasing number of scientists and policymakers are saying green hydrogen’s time has come to be brought fully into the energy mix of the future.

Governments including those of Germany, Britain, Australia and Japan are working on or have announced hydrogen strategies.

There remains the question of prices.
Today, hydrogen made from fossil fuels costs between $1-$1.8/kg.
Green hydrogen can cost around $3-$6/kg, making it significantly more expensive than the fossil fuel alternatives.

However, increased demand could reduce the cost of electrolysis.
Coupled with falling renewable energy costs, green hydrogen could fall to $1.5/kg by 2050 and possibly sub-$1/kg, making it competitive with natural gas.
Higher carbon prices would also encourage the shift.

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