Hydrogen will likely be the fuel of our future. There will be other green fuels but hydrogen has the most promise of all of the alternate energy sources. The building our hydrogen based economy may be simpler than you expect.
Hydrogen can be produced in a variety of ways. The cleanest methods are electrolysis and thermolysis. Electrolysis using today’s standard power generation is not very clean or efficient. That is because a large portion of the standard power (electricity) we have provided today uses fossil fuels to drive the power plants.
Cleaner electrical power generation using nuclear, solar, wind and tidal input energies will provide the majority of our energy needs in the near future. One of the most inexpensive sources of electrical energy will be tidal powered.
Tidal power will make a huge leap forward in the near future with Archimedes Wave Swing (AWS) generation plants. AWS has a huge advantage due to its simplicity. The AWS units have no exterior moving parts greatly reducing maintenance requirements in a saltwater environment. Wave and/or tide changes power basically an underwater bellows to drive compressed air linear generator. Higher tides compress the bellows and lower tides decompress the bellows. With the bellows they call a floater being the only moving part, AWS units will be very reliable.
The AWS units are hidden beneath the seas fully out of sight and out of the way of marine traffic. This will definitely increase their popularity in an eco-friendly world. Primarily designed for near shore operation these units are well suited for offshore and remote location hydrogen production.
Solar and Nuclear power plants will provide some energy for electrolysis hydrogen production. However, the cost of energy production will limit their use. Wind power is more suited for hydrogen production than solar and nuclear. Still wind turbine power farms should be limited if AWS production increases as I anticipate.
The simplicity of the AWS method and the out of sight installation will make tidal power a major energy player. With tidal forces most pronounced in the higher latitudes, ideal AWS are too remote for connection to electrical grids. This nearly mandates that the majority of AWS produced energy will be stored in the form of hydrogen.
Just as the AWS units are submerged, the hydrogen production facilities will be submerge in many cases. This will protect the production facilities from the sever weather associated with the ideal locations for tidal power generation.
Thermolysis hydrogen production will most likely be associated with nuclear power plants. Heat is required to produce the chemical reactions in thermolysis. Waste heat from nuclear power generation will be efficiently utilized in the thermolysis cycle.
With these much more cost-effective methods of producing portable energy, bio-fuels will play a much less important role in our energy future. The production of is expensive and costs will only increase as demand for agricultural commodities increase. Bio-fuels and fossil fuels will continue to be a part of our energy economy. Only their roles will be much smaller than many predict.
Progress towards our energy independence is moving much faster than many realize. When Americans embrace AWS tidal power generation the progress will quicken. Arguments over the correct approach to meeting our energy goals should reduce when the first large scale AWS powered hydrogen production facilities come on-line.