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 Car News Congress, the electric car mogul described hydrogen fuel cells as “extremely stupid.”

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk reiterated his skepticism about the role of hydrogen in the planned transition to a more sustainable future, describing it as “the stupidest thing I could have imagined for energy storage.”

During an interview at the Financial Times Future of the Car summit on Tuesday, Mask was asked if he thought hydrogen was playing a role in accelerating the transition from fossil fuels.

“No,” he replied. “I really can’t stress that enough – the number of times I’ve been asked about hydrogen, it could be … it’s a lot more than 100 times, maybe 200 times,” he said. “It’s important to understand that if you want a means of storing energy, hydrogen is a bad choice.”

Expanding his argument, Musk further stated that “giant tanks” would be needed to keep hydrogen in liquid form. If it was stored in gaseous form, “even bigger” tanks would be needed, he said.

Described by the International Energy Agency as a “universal energy source,” hydrogen has a wide range of applications and can be deployed in areas such as industry and transportation.

In 2019, the IEA stated that hydrogen is “one of the leading options for storing energy from renewable sources and looks like a promising option with the lowest cost for storing electricity for days, weeks or even months”.

The Paris-based organization added that both hydrogen and hydrogen fuels are able to “transport energy from renewable sources over long distances – from regions rich in solar and wind resources, such as Australia or Latin America, to energy-intensive cities thousands of miles away.”

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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 Car News Congress, the electric car mogul described hydrogen fuel cells as “extremely stupid.”

In June 2020, he wrote on Twitter “fuel cells = fool sells”, adding in July of that year: “It doesn’t make sense to sell a hydrogen fool.” Judging by his comments this week, he is still not convinced about hydrogen.

“It’s not found in nature on Earth, so you need to either split the water by electrolysis or crack the hydrocarbons,” he told the Financial Times.

“If you’re cracking hydrocarbons, you haven’t really solved the fossil fuel problem, and the electrolysis efficiency is low.”

Today, most hydrogen production is based on fossil fuels. Another method of production involves the use of electrolysis, in which an electric current of water splits into oxygen and hydrogen.

If the electricity used in this process comes from renewable sources such as wind or sun, then some call it green or renewable hydrogen.

Hydrogen projects using electrolysis in recent years have aroused the interest of large companies and business leaders, but Musk does not seem to be a fan.

“The efficiency of electrolysis … is bad,” he told the Financial Times. “So you really spend a lot of energy to … separate hydrogen and oxygen. Then you have to separate hydrogen and oxygen and push them – it also requires a lot of energy.”

“And if you need to get rid of … hydrogen, my God,” he continued. “The amount of energy needed to … produce hydrogen and turn it into a liquid form is staggering. It’s the dumbest thing I could have imagined to save energy. “

Different points of view

Musk may be contemptuous of the role of hydrogen in energy transfer, but other influential voices are a little more optimistic. Among them is Anna Svalbard, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Transformation.

During a recent panel discussion moderated by CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, Svalbard called hydrogen “a game-changing technology that speaks to many other sources … because it can underlie nuclear energy, gas, renewable energy, purifying part of it.” as well as CCUS [carbon capture utilization and storage]».

Elsewhere in February, Michele DelaVinha, head of Goldman Sachs’ commodity business unit in the EMEA region, stressed the important role he believes will continue to play.

“If we want to move to zero need, we can’t do it just through renewable energy,” he said.

“We need something that plays the modern role of natural gas, especially to control seasonality and periodicity, and that’s hydrogen,” DelaVinha said, describing hydrogen as “a very powerful molecule.”

The main thing, he said, was “to produce it without CO2 emissions. And that’s why we’re talking about green, we’re talking about blue hydrogen.”

Blue hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced using natural gas – a fossil fuel – with CO2 emissions that are formed during the process, captured and stored. There is a fierce debate over the role of blue hydrogen in the decarbonisation of society.

“Whether we do it by electrolysis or carbon capture, we need to generate hydrogen in a clean way,” DelaVinha said. “And if we get that, I think we have a solution that may one day become at least 15% of the world’s energy markets, which means it will be … over a trillion dollars in the market a year.” .

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