Midjourney generated image of the madness of hydrogen, in the style of Hieronymus Bosch
Hydrogen For Energy Is A Terrible Idea That People Love, But Why?
What drives this madness on hydrogen?
7 min read
Recently, someone reached out to me with the question in the subtitle. They got an engineering degree and an MBA from good schools, have worked at one of the world’s top consultancies, have done CEO-level strategy work, and currently have decarbonization accountability for a $4 billion annual revenue transportation company. They have the STEM and fiscal chops that make it obvious hydrogen for energy is a dead end, as well as skin in the game.
Because they actually know the science, run the numbers on decarbonization solutions, and deal with otherwise bright, informed, competent people who have many of those attributes, they were deeply perplexed why they were getting hydrogen for energy questions and proposals twice a day. In their words, “What drives this madness on hydrogen?” They hoped I could shed some light on the subject to help them deal with the matter more effectively and efficiently.
I’m withholding the name for a couple of reasons. One, the person in question has an important and already conflict-laden role of transformation, and wouldn’t be helped by becoming a lightning rod within their firm, client, and supplier group. I’ll ground that charge for them. Second, I get this question all the time from different people I engage with globally.
When I deal with investment groups, frequently they are wondering the same thing even if they don’t have the STEM chops to follow Paul Martin’s explanations in the space. They respect my complete disregard for people’s feelings in my ruthless adherence to running the numbers in multiple domains, respect the outcomes in areas they understand, yet see the disconnect between the current hydrogen hype and my positions and analysis of hydrogen for energy. We are all bullish on hydrogen electrolysers and building lots of green energy to power them, but are realistic about what off-takers actually exist for projects.
The most recent person to ask the question had the same context I do with my projection of hydrogen demand through 2100, the same as BNEF founder Michael Liebreich with his excellent hydrogen ladder, and the same as chemical engineer and co-founder of the Hydrogen Science Coalition Paul Martin with…