I like Alternet and read it daily; I share its left wing politics and my name is Alter. I didn't like "Is the Hydrogen Age Just Around the Corner?" that suggested that we "examine the critics' misconceptions about hydrogen." They challenge five "myths" but only one really matters.
Few would disagree with 4/5 of the article, if there was lots of hydrogen around we could probably safely transport it and use it. The problem is the 1/5 that says that "The production of hydrogen is already a large, mature industry" - making it from natural gas for the oil refineries. We are at or approaching peak gas, and nobody is going to build a hydrogen economy around the existing "large, mature industry," the gas is booked already for heat, chemicals and the tar sands. If you take natural gas out of the equation, then hydrogen comes from electrolysis and it is a battery, a storage medium, and not a particularly efficient one.
In fact, the hydrogen economy is step three in the authors' real agenda, which is energy independence from mideast oil, and if you have to make hydrogen from natural gas that's just fine in the short term. In their book, Freedom From Mid-East Oil they suggest two intermediate steps including "vast improvements in automobile efficiency through hydrogen fuel-efficient and flexible-fuel vehicles in the short term, in hybrids and plug-in hybrids in the mid-term (2010-2015), and in advanced materials plugin hybrids and fuel cell vehicles in the long term (2015-2025 and beyond)."
Step 2 is "acceleration of the domestic and international biofuels industry, primarily through corn-based ethanol in the short term; through corn- and sugar-based ethanol (sugar cane, sugar beets) in the mid-term; and ultimately through cellulosic biomass feedstocks, which will not complete with food or animal feed supplies, in the long term."
The Hydrogen economy comes into play in step three, "transition to advanced- materials hydrogen fuel cell vehicles which use as feedstocks, cellulosic ethanol and/or hydrogen, the latter generated from distributed "trickle-charge" electrolysis plants."
all "within 10 years with existing technology and no new taxes."
TreeHugger loves optimistic, positive plans, technological fixes and no new taxes. But this all sounds like fantasyland. ::Alternet