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Engineering LibreTexts The evolution of the hydrogen economy policy in the 21st century

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    After the speech of President G.W. Bush in 2004, virtually nothing happened over the next 10 years. Finally, things started moving forward in 2014. But not in the US – in Japan. Three years earlier, Japan was hit by a terrible disaster, the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, which caused, among other things, the catastrophe at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant. As a result, Japan concluded that in this country, often haunted by earthquakes, the expansion of nuclear power as the backbone of a zero-emission economy is too risky. From debates it emerged that a viable alternative would be to focus efforts on a rapid transition of the nation to an economy in which hydrogen will play the role as a major energy carrier. A document titled “Basic hydrogen strategy” was created in 2014 – it has been updated several times from then. It is certainly worth getting acquainted with a version of this document in which this Japan’s economy conversion plan is outlined in a compact transparent form aided by graphical schemes. The Australians have realized that they have vast areas where the average population density is extremely low (well below 1 inhabitant per square mile), but where there is plenty of sunshine and wind. It is enough to supply the entire Australian population and industry with electricity – and even much, much more. Unfortunately, there is no way to export this surplus electricity to other nations, because all Australia is surrounded by ocean... And then the idea arose to convert this surplus power to fuel – what kind? – hydrogen! And to transport this hydrogen is across the seas to countries that will need it, to Japan first of all. How to transport it? We will talk about this a little later. Anyway, it’s all included in the official Australian state project entitled “National hydrogen strategy”. The latest (Novcember 2019) version of the governmental publication describing all aspects of the general plan can be found in this PDF document. It’s a big file, 99 pages long – but it reads very well, because of the “user-friendly text structuring” and plenty of graphic illustrations.

    There are other countries that have recently established official plans of a strategy for developing hydrogen economy at the national level. There is a website with a list – in which,in addition to Japan and Australia – there are eight additional countries where such plans have begun to be implemented. But there should be more nations on this list than just 10. Definitely, it should include the Netherlands, which also intend to implement an ambitious strategy described in this official comprehensive government document. The country wants to use excess power from large off-shore windmill farms to produce green hydrogen. The Dutch neighbor, Belgium, has similarly ambitious plans. It also intends to use the power from off-shore windmill farms to produce green hydrogen and even wants to become a global leader in this field. Belgium has not yet published such an extensive official document on the planned strategy as the Netherland, but its plans are described in many more compact Web pages, for example in this Web article, or in another one. Two Scandinavian countries known for their contribution to the development of zero-emission technologies, Denmark and Norway, also have far-reaching intentions regarding hydrogen economy.

    In the Web list of the 10 nations linked above, one country is conspicuously absent: the United States. Which can be understood, given that the US is a “superpower” in the production of natural gas, and therefore hydrogen as a fuel seems to only attract its marginal attention. But this is not true for all States – in California, hydrogen does attract much interest, because this State – as discussed earlier in this chapter – clearly aims to eliminate natural gas as a source of energy, striving to achieve full decarbonization of its economy by the year 2045. The evolution of the hydrogen economy policy in the 21st century is shared under a CC BY 1.3 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Tom Giebultowicz.

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