President Bush has declared hydrogen to be the fuel of the future on more than one occasion. Maybe it will be, but as the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car” points out, hydrogen is becoming a distraction from what is currently possible in terms of the electric car, compared to what might be possible in the future with hydrogen. It is delaying real change for another decade or even another entire generation.
Why do we make this stuff difficult? Do we really need to wait ten or twenty years? Why can’t we take baby steps? Why can’t we just force auto makers to increase fuel efficiency?
I’m not a scientist, but it seems like common-sense to me that if we increase fuel efficiency by 10% over the next couple years, I think that is two to three mpg, we would reduce the amount of oil we buy from the Middle East by 10%. I think that also means we would reduce emissions by 10%, right? And I am no economist, but it seems to me that if we spend that 10% savings we aren’t giving to Saudi Arabia, here in the United States, that it would boost our economy too. Make sense?
In a way, I commend those pushing for hydrogen because at least they are not denying there is a problem, and I encourage the development, but I question whether spending billions on hydrogen, at the expense of immediate fuel efficiency increases and/or electric car technology is a wise move. Electric/hybrid car technology has been advancing for a decade, and it seems like we’d be starting over if we make hydrogen the priority rather than an option.
Most realistic enthusiasts of hydrogen see it more as a long-term strategy, not an answer to the concerns about air quality, climate change and energy conservation over the next 20 years. Besides, hydrogen isn’t exactly a safe option right now. The BMW Hydrogen 7 can’t be kept in enclosed garages in case the gas leaks which could cause an explosion. I think the propane tank on my grill says that too. I doubt there is a warning sticker like that on the Toyota Prius.
The kinks in hydrogen might take decades to get ironed out, until then, we should concentrate on immediate fuel efficiency improvements and expanded electric car technology. That seems like common-sense.