Wednesday, February 7, 2007
"Today I am pleased to announce that the United States will sponsor a $1 billion, 10-year demonstration project to create the world's first coal-based, zero-emissions electricity and hydrogen power plant..." President George W. Bush
February 27, 2003
The FutureGen initiative is to build hydrogen production using coal as the hydrogen production energy source. The process being considered in FutureGen includes carbon sequestering using various geological storage sites. Still this process does not free us from fossil fuels. Is this process needed?
The honest answer is yes. Building a hydrogen economy will take time and there is a logical progression required. Building infrastructure is a major consideration. The first true production hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCV) will be hitting the market in the next few years. Fueling stations for hydrogen are extremely limited. More sources of inexpensive hydrogen are required to build the hydrogen infrastructure.
Coal and other fossil fuels including natural gas are abundant and easily converted to hydrogen using existing technology. Cleaner, less fossil fuel dependent methods like electrolysis and waste heat driven thermolysis are advancing. Still, the efficiencies of these cleaner hydrogen production technologies require inexpensive energy for cost effective production.
The inexpensive energies for hydrogen production in the high quantities needed are on the way, but not quickly enough. Interim steps like coal source hydrogen and liquid natural gas fuel cells will help to build the hydrogen infrastructure. The key to converting to a hydrogen-based economy is economics. We can’t break the bank. Gasoline prices will still set the standard for growth in alternate fuels. So the transition has to be fiscally responsible.
Coal power plants like FutureGen serve to demonstrate and refine technologies that will be used building and supplying our hydrogen energy future. While you may not agree with FutureGen, it is a valuable step on the road to our energy future.
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