Romm, a skilled but disingenuous academic, makes hay with his has-been political credentials in an effort to sway public sentiment away from desperately needed government hydrogen funding and toward his dead end pet projects. Carefully ignoring important information counter to his argument, he builds a case against the clean air and energy security promise of hydrogen energy that has outraged the core of the hydrogen community.
In "Responses to Joe Romm's Seven Points on the Hydrogen Economy", C. E. "Sandy" Thomas, long time leader of high level studies on hydrogen safety and efficiency, and now President of H2Gen Innovations, tears apart Romm's thesis thread by thread. This freely distributed white paper can be found at the web sites of EV World and the International Clearinghouse for Hydrogen Based Commerce.
A few of Sandy's key observations:
"Joe says that it took PV and wind 20 years for a 10X drop in price, therefore the 100X drop that he portrays for FCVs would take many decades. He concludes that a major breakthrough in fuel cell technology is required. Christine Sloane of GM reports that they are within a factor of 10 now (if mass produced) in the range of a few hundred $/kW without any breakthrough."
"Hydrogen produced by the H2Gen's HGM natural gas reformer at the fueling station or fleet operator's garage would cost less per mile than taxed gasoline. We estimate that the life-cycle costs of owning and operating a hydrogen FCV would be $2,290 less than owning and operating a conventional gasoline car..."
"Joe Romm claims that a storage breakthrough is required before FCVs will be practical. The Ford Motor Company designed (but did not build) a FCV in 1994-95 that would have achieved 280 miles range using 5,000 psi hydrogen tanks based on a slightly modified Ford Contour, and 380 miles range with PNGV body parameters. Storage improvements would be welcomed, but no storage breakthrough is required."
"The NRC report does state in one chapter that "the cost of generating hydrogen with any of the distributed technologies...would greatly exceed the gasoline costs." [p. 5-7]. However, they neglect the increased fuel economy of the FCV that will reduce the costs per mile, the only figure of merit of importance to the driver. ...Conclusion: Data provided in the NRC report show that the cost of hydrogen per mile driven will be between 27% to 52% lower than the cost of gasoline at $1.80/gallon in a conventional car, and between 3% more to 32% less than the cost of gasoline used in a hybrid electric vehicle."
"We have no debate with Joe's admiration of the gasoline hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) such as the Prius. In the short term, everyone should be encouraged to purchase HEVs to cut oil imports and pollution. It is not a question of either HEVs or FCVs; we can do both. In the long term, however, the gasoline HEV is a dead-end road for both GHGs and oil import reductions. ...gasoline HEVs will temporarily reduce GHGs and oil imports, but that advantage is wiped out within a decade or so by increased vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Hence we have to move to hydrogen to assure a long-term solution to GHGs and oil imports. These charts assume that all hydrogen is made from natural gas initially, gradually transitioning to hydrogen from renewables, such that 50% of all hydrogen comes from renewables by 2050."
Don't be fooled into thinking Romm is an expert. There is a lot of jealousy over the money going into hydrogen R&D. The ethanol lobby is a prime example. Ask yourself what Romm's cheerleaders have to gain before swallowing his line. Romm is wrong. This propaganda text is a example of educated sophistry at its worst.
Richard D. Masters
International Clearinghouse for Hydrogen Based Commerce