Tesla CEO Elon Musk refuses to use hydrogen as an energy storage tool
Elon Musk has a history of expressing strong opinions about hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells. A few years ago, when the topic came up during a discussion with reporters at the World Automotive News Conference, the electric car tycoon described hydrogen fuel cells as “quite ridiculous.”
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk reiterated his skepticism about hydrogen’s role in the planned transition to a more sustainable future, calling it “the dumbest thing I could imagine for energy storage.”
During an interview at the Financial Times Future of the Car Summit on Tuesday, Musk was asked if he thought hydrogen was playing a role in accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels.
He replied, “No.” “I can’t stress this enough – the number of times I’ve been asked about hydrogen, it might be…100 times more, maybe 200 times,” he said. “It’s important to understand that if you want a way to store energy, hydrogen is a bad choice.”
Expanding on his argument, Musk went on to say that “giant tanks” would be required to hold hydrogen in liquid form. If it were stored in gaseous form, he said, “bigger” tanks would be needed.
Described by the International Energy Agency as a “versatile energy carrier”, hydrogen has a variety of applications and can be deployed in sectors such as industry and transportation.
In 2019, the International Energy Agency said hydrogen was “one of the leading options for energy storage from renewable energy sources and appears promising as a less costly option for storing electricity over days, weeks, or even months.”
The Paris-based organization added that both hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels were able to “transfer power from renewables over long distances – from regions with abundant solar and wind resources, such as Australia or Latin America, to starved cities.” energy thousands of kilometers away.”
Musk has a history of expressing strong opinions about hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells.
A few years ago, when the topic came up during a discussion with reporters at the World Automotive News Conference, the electric car tycoon described hydrogen fuel cells as “quite ridiculous.”
In June 2020, he tweeted “Fuel cells = sells an idiot,” Adding in July of that year: “Selling foolish hydrogen is meaningless.” Judging by his comments this week, he remains unconvinced about hydrogen.
“It doesn’t happen naturally on Earth, so you either have to separate the water via electrolysis or break down the hydrocarbons,” he told the Financial Times.
“When you break down hydrocarbons, you really haven’t solved the fossil fuel problem, and the effectiveness of electrolysis is poor.”
Today, most hydrogen production is based on fossil fuels. Another method of production involves the use of electrolysis, with an electric current splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen.
If the electricity used in this process comes from a renewable source such as wind or solar energy, some call it green or renewable hydrogen.
Hydrogen projects using electrolysis have attracted the interest of major corporations and business leaders in recent years, but Musk appears not to be a fan of them.
“The efficiency of electrolysis … is poor,” he told the Financial Times. “So you’re really spending a lot of energy splitting hydrogen and oxygen. Then you have to separate hydrogen and oxygen and compress it – that also takes a lot of energy.”
And he continued, “And if you have to liquefy … hydrogen, oh my God.” “The amount of energy required…to produce hydrogen and convert it into a liquid form is staggering. It’s the dumbest thing I can imagine for energy storage.”
Musk may dismiss hydrogen’s role in energy transmission, but other influential voices are more optimistic. Among them is Anna Shpittsberg, who is the deputy assistant secretary of state for energy transformation at the US State Department.
During a recent panel discussion moderated by CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, Spittsburgh described hydrogen as “a game-changing technology that speaks to a variety of other sources…because it can support nuclear, it can support gas, it can support renewables, and it can support Thoroughly cleans part of it as well as CCUS [carbon capture utilization and storage]. “
Elsewhere, February saw Michel Della Vigna, Head of EMEA Equities Business Unit, Michel Della Vigna, highlighting the important role he felt he would play in the future.
“If we want to go to net zero, we can’t just do that with renewable energy,” he said.
“We need something that takes on the role of natural gas today, especially to manage seasonality and intermittency, and that is hydrogen,” Delavigna argued, going on to describe hydrogen as a “very powerful molecule.”
The key, he said, is “to produce it without CO2 emissions. That’s why we’re talking about green, and we’re talking about blue hydrogen.”
Blue hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced using natural gas – a fossil fuel – with carbon dioxide emissions generated during the process being captured and stored. There has been a charged debate about the role blue hydrogen can play in removing carbon from society.
“Whether we do it using electrolysis or using carbon capture, we need to generate hydrogen in a clean way,” Della Vigna said. “And once we have it, I think we have a solution that could, one day, become at least 15% of the global energy market which means it will be … a market worth over a trillion dollars a year.”