Claim: We Must Unleash the Climate Friendly Hydrogen Unicorn

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to the Aussie ABC, Australia’s government broadcast service, things will fall apart unless we ditch coal and start exporting climate friendly hydrogen to a hungry global market.

Australia could fall apart under climate change. But there is a way to avoid it
The Conversation By Ross Garnaut

Four years ago in December 2015, every member of the United Nations met in Paris and agreed to hold global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius, and as close as possible to 1.5C.

I have spent my life on the positive end of discussion of Australian domestic and international policy questions. 

But if effective global action on climate change fails, I fear the challenge would be beyond contemporary Australia. I fear that things would fall apart.

Australia is by far the world’s largest exporter of iron ore and aluminium ores. 

In the main they are processed overseas, but in the post-carbon world we will be best positioned to turn them into zero-emission iron and aluminium.

In such a world, there will be no economic sense in any aluminium or iron smelting in Japan or Korea, not much in Indonesia, and enough to cover only a modest part of domestic demand in China and India.

A natural supplier to the world’s industry

With abundant low-cost electricity, Australia could grow into a major global producer of minerals needed in the post-carbon world, such as lithium, titanium, vanadium, nickel, cobalt and copper. 

It could also become the natural supplier of pure silicon, produced from sand or quartz, for which there is fast-increasing global demand.

Other new zero-emissions industrial products will require little more than globally competitive electricity to create. 

These include ammonia, exportable hydrogen and electricity transmitted by high-voltage cables to and through Indonesia and Singapore to the Asian mainland.

In 2008 the comprehensive modelling undertaken for the Garnaut Review suggested the transition would entail a noticeable (but manageable) sacrifice of Australian income in the first half of this century, followed by gains that would grow late into the second half of this century and beyond.

Today, calculations using similar techniques would give different results.

Read more:

The hydrogen absurdity is based on the idea, promoted by academics, that there is an amazing business opportunity to use Australia’s globally competitive solar electricity to produce ammonia or hydrogen through electrolysis, which would be exported to Asia’s hungry energy markets.

Strangely businesses are not rushing in to exploit this amazing opportunity. No doubt there is a big oil conspiracy to suppress the baby hydrogen economy, which could be overcome with lots of government cash.

135 thoughts on “Claim: We Must Unleash the Climate Friendly Hydrogen Unicorn

  1. There is a world shortage of sand to produce silicon? Who knew?
    Clearly CO2 is altering the world’s geology now.

    • The point is that cheap electricity is the unicorn, yet the green unicorn is an albatross. China’s already figured this out, Australia should just follow their lead. The largest cost of a solar panel is the electricity required to produce it and the same is true for all of the commodities mentioned, especially producing H2 from water. China uses cheap coal and subsidizes the cost of electricity to its industry. The enables them sell us things like solar panels for less than it would cost us to produce them using energy that as it gets ‘greener’ takes more green to pay for. Isn’t this what they mean by ‘green’ energy?

        • You do realize that the Hindenburg disaster was caused by aluminum and iron pigments in a nitrate dope(paint). Aluminum and iron powders mixed are called Thermite- a potent, very high temperature, extremely difficult to extinquish fire. The hydrogen was secondary, the covering essentially exploded in flames from end to end of the airship, igniting the iron hydrogen.

        • Right from your linked site:

          “Silica sand is the primary raw material used in making glass products.”

          Clean sand is not necessarily pure silica sand, without contamination.

          Clean sand is good for glass, including panel covers.
          Pure silica sand, i.e. 100% SiO₂, is required for processors and circuit board components.

          • ATheoK
            Yes, there is a significant difference between quartz sand acceptable for glass making, and quartz sand suitable for the electronics industry. Perhaps the author is unaware of that.

            I also wonder about the availability of lithium, vanadium, nickel, and cobalt, irregardless of the availability of power.

    • Mod. Cross
      Hate to defend Garnaut, but I think he is referring to the extremely pure and extensive silica sand deposits that occur for instance in Far North Queensland.

    • There’s a world shortage of good quartz sand to produce cement/concrete, or at least a shortage of it near to where it is wanted.

      Get yourself a good sand pit in the right location and you are in clover

  2. “every member of the United Nations met in Paris and agreed to hold global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius”

    Mother Nature: Oh, did you? Hold my beer…

    • Let me do a Nick Stokes

      Actually they didn’t agree to “hold”, they agreed to “try to hold” and they never defined “try”.

      • As the great philosopher Yoda said, for circumstances just like the Paris Accords,

        “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

        • Pillage Idiot
          As I recollect, I had a drill instructor in basic training that subscribed to the same philosophy.

          • I wish I had yours. Mine was only do, he even had a catchphrase, “DO you (expletive deleted), there is no (expletive) TRY, there is no (expletive) do not, your only choice is to (expletive) DO IT YOU (fornication) (female cat)!”

            There was was some variations in the expletive, but it always ended the same. Really nice guy after BUDS.

          • I had the same guy as Robert below. (expletive ) failure is not a (expletive) option (expletive ) for brains.

    • Ms Widmann,

      Over the last two-three years, I have seen 2 (two) hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars here in sunny Southern California. I’m sure that the number of hydrogen cars on the road will take off exponentially in the next decade or two.

      One of the owners told me that he likes the car, but there aren’t many fueling points around. Militates against long-distance travel.

      • Hydrogen cars seemed promising for Geo-political reasons but were overtaken by new technology.

        – Fuel cells seemed to be an improvement over Lead or molten NaS batteries and GM had the patent for NiMH locked away in the deepest vault. But then Lithium batteries became a viable option.
        – The dreaded peak oil did not happen, thanks to fracking.
        – Most of the bothersome Arab dictators suffered from acute lead poisoning, so now the Arabs are best friends again.

      • Hydrogen for powering cars has a number of problems that will prevent this “exponential” take off in the near term as you described. 1) It takes far more energy to produce than it provides in combustion. 2) It doesn’t liquify under ordinary cryogenic conditions, so it must be stored and delivered as a gas under high pressure. 3) Even at 10,000 psi, which requires thick, heavy tanks, it still requires 7 times the volume (not including the volume of the container) to contain the same energy as gasoline. 4) It has a tiny molecule, making it difficult to prevent leaks and diffusion. There are no known short term solutions to these items.

    • What an utterly preposterous idea. Clearly written by a scientist , and not an engineer. At least someone who clearly understands neither physics nor thermodynamics. I was in middle school at the time and we understood the concept that perpetual motion was not possible.
      Prima facie it makes no sense.
      “Burn all possible fuels to make hydrogen…so we can then use hydrogen for … fuel?”
      …and this will all be green because hydrogen is green. But, what about all those other fuels we use to make the hydrogen… a conversion loss. According to the author they aren’t supposedly green.

        • Oops I thought you were talking the primary author here I have no idea about the 1973 author. Talked too soon

      • No dumber than petroleum to fertilizer to corn to ethanol to oil/gas/electric distillation to dilute gasoline to burn.

        It makes more sense to burn the corn directly For heat. Better if you eat the corn and burn the stalks. This even makes more non-meat food available if you buy into that baloney.

        Australia has lots of resources, common sense and reason, however, in short supply.

  3. wow, Eric, that’s a colorful Unicorn there, and I always wondered what powered them, now I know: hydrogen farts! Ross Garnaut is an Economics Professor who has been appointed to study the economic effects of Climate Change on Australia. His appointment was based on both his leftist views and his economics background. The inane ramblings he presents about smelting metallic commodities with cheap (solar?) electricity and gaining an international competitive advantage might be an indication of his advancing age (73) starting to slow down his personal computing system. Or maybe he’s just a looney.

    • No Ron, not a looney – a very slick operator is Rossie boy.
      His carpet bag was pumped up and ready to go as soon as Kevin Rudd became prime minister in 2007.

      Not actually forgetting his sweet gold mining gig by water blasting the rivers in PNG (Rossie was chairman of Lihir Gold Ltd), he soon found a much sweeter gig with the Labor government alongside his fellow climate carpetbagger Tim ($90m in taxpayer funding for a “hot rocks” power folly) Flannery.

      Ross was building himself a house in Melbourne on which his preferred roofing materials were not compliant with the city’s building code for the area. So Ross applied for an exemption from the roofing materials standard on the basis that “climate change is going to make hailstones bigger in the future”

      Man, that guy every way to milk that climate change boondoggle.

      • And I bet he won’t be making any sacrifice in income like the rest of us are expected to do. This guy is living proof that there should be a law against economists using engineering or scientific terms.

        • Sir Les wasn’t a composite comic character, Fanakapan, he was the real-life embodiment of what passes for public officials these days.
          In the same way that “Yes Minister” wasn’t a sitcom, it was a documentary.

  4. Creating hydrogen with electrolysis is fairly expensive. Plus the hydrogen economy never really did materialize much. There is a demand for hydrogen for industrial purposes, and it is still possible that hydrogen could play a part in transportation requirements as well as some day using that to supplement the methane in NG, although we are awash in NG for the foreseeable future.

    The oil sands research programs going on include recovering vast amounts of hydrogen from low grade oil sands deposits that probably won’t ever get commercialized because they are too deep or too uneconomical for ‘conventional’ oil sands recovery. What they are focusing on is recovering only the hydrogen from such low grade deposits, by leaving the sand and the CO2 in the ground. As I understand very simply, they pump in large quantities of oxygen as a reactor that allows hydrogen to form which is all that is extracted. This is still all prototype, but if it allowed a whole lot of expansion in the heavy bitumen deposits globally, it expands our energy supplies without using precious electricity to crack water for hydrogen. Plus it perhaps satisfies some of the rabid environmental protests about ‘carbon’ and CO2 abatement.

    • Disassociating water into H and O through electrolysis causes embrittlement of metals; at least until the mobile portion of hydrogen is removed. Basically, H atoms are mobile versus H₂ molecules.

      H&38322; molecules are tough to contain. They escape; similar to He atoms escaping from balloons.

      Back in the ancient 1990s, most of the hydrogen engines for buses were destined for Canada. Toronto, I believe, but I could be wrong.
      I’d invested in a company making hydrogen fuel cells and motors, which they were supposed to expand production for cars also.

      When the business scale up failed to occur, I sold the stocks; which luckily turned out to be near the stock’s highest value.

      Reducing my interest in hydrogen fuel for power back to the 1960s and Popular Science. Great idea, let me know when hydrogen vehicles and local filling stations are low cost and abundant.

      • Yes, Toronto experimented with hydrogen buses back in the late 90’s but that went bust. It was Whistler, BC that had the hydrogen fuel cell buses for the Winter Olympics in 2010. The fuel cells were supplied by Ballard Power Systems which I believe traded on the OTC exchange as well as the TSX in Toronto. The buses went bust as well just a few years back, since they were bringing in their hydrogen from Montreal on rail. That was crazy. And the fuel cells didn’t have the longevity they had hoped for so the buses were basically scrapped. I made money and lost money trading stocks on the fantasy of the hydrogen economy, but until recently these stocks like Ballard have been in the tank. It has recovered somewhat the last year or two.

        I have my doubts that we will have a significant hydrogen economy anytime soon. If we are going to use fuels cells, it would be better to just use gasoline or something like a methanol blend that could be added to existing FF infrastructure. Perhaps larger transport trucks might be better suited to a limited type of hydrogen filling station where the range might be greater between designated truck stops. A trucking company in Calgary/Edmonton is just starting a commercial trial with only 3 fuelling stations required at each end and one in the middle in Red Deer.

        I only mention the oil sands research for extracting hydrogen from the oil sands, where the majority of deposits that are real low grade due to depth and are better suited to something like this if it is even profitable. Just burn it for electricity in CCGT and send the electrons to market and meet some type of social licence for carrying on with traditional unconventional oil sand extraction.

  5. Buying shares in DC transmission cable companies right now,
    oh, and cryogenics and sealing technology companies for that pesky little hydrogen molecule.
    Did i forget the insurance market ?

  6. 2 H2 + O2 —> 2 H2O, a much more potent GHG than CO2. So how could switching to hydrogen possibly help “save the planet”?

    • Phantor48

      The claim by alarmists is that CO2 leads to a small warming, which increases evaporation/transpiration, which leads to even greater warming. Now, the proposal to go hydrogen just replaces CO2 with HOH, a more powerful GHG! Besides leading to warming in general, cities will experience higher humidity, increasing the heat index and leading to warmer nights, thus increased urban heat island effects.

      It might be that alarmists are just dense. However, I believe that Joel O’Bryan is right on target.

      • Can you imagine Edmonton in -40 winter when it is the law that all vehicles are electric or hydrogen fuel cell? Every tailpipe dripping water with a foot of glare ice everywhere on the streets and freeways with the city fogged in, ruining all the solar insolation for the mandated solar panels.

        There is a place for hydrogen if a real cheap source can be found easily from fossil duels that has limited emissions to beat the political CO2 madness. Probably just generating electricity in a CCGT would be its best use and avoid trying to store hydrogen which is tricky. Or using hydrogen to add to the methane for present natgas distribution. I don’t think a hydrogen fuel cell car could compete with a EV, or even better, a Plug In Hybrid which does make sense. Maybe a real micro/mini fuel cell as an onboard generator for a plugin hybrid might make sense if some type of hydrogen infrastructure is ever realized. On board charging and supplemental waste heating would be a big bonus for PHEV in northern climes.

        • Earthling2

          We know that lead-acid batteries degrade considerably in very cold weather. Sometimes it is hit or miss to get a conventional engine to start when it gets below -10F. I expect that lithium ion batteries won’t be much better because chemical reactions slow down with low temperatures. Nobody talks about the range of an electric car when the battery not only has to move the car, but also has to heat the interior.

          I wonder if anyone has done any research on what happens to a fuel cell when it gets to -40F overnight? Not everyone has the luxury of having a heated garage to put the vehicle in.

        • Earthling2: “There is a place for hydrogen if a real cheap source can be found easily […]”

          There’s a retail opportunity there. I would like a small tank of hydrogen to rid my yard of some pesky moles. I already have matches. I would just like a small pressurized tank of hydrogen to release into the tunnels and then BOOM!

          As seen on TV No mo’ moles.

          Think of how entertaining the infomercials would be, eh? And that’s just one idea of how to grow the hydrogen economy. I’m sure there are many more good uses.

          First one that comes up with Mole-B-Gone for under $20.00 per tank has at least one sale here.

          • You can already do that with acetylene tanks. And you will get a very satisfactory boom.

            I doubt you want to be near the mole hole at ignition time.

            Think about electric igniters used for rockets or a very long piezo igniter. They sell 2ft long ones for campers, but I would suggest a longer one.

            And wear at least 29db quality ear muffs and safety glasses.

        • “Earthling2 November 6, 2019 at 12:47 pm
          Can you imagine Edmonton in -40 winter when it is the law that all vehicles are electric or hydrogen fuel cell? Every tailpipe dripping water with a foot of glare ice everywhere on the streets and freeways with the city fogged in, ruining all the solar insolation for the mandated solar panels.”

          Correct Earthling2!
          And guess where that glare ice, aka ‘black ice’, form the most?

          Right where cars stop for redlights. As they sit consuming fuel and emitting water, they fill the air with fog and drip water.
          As more cars stop and go, the road gets slippery; “slick as ice”.

          On still days, that emitted fog quickly envelops vehicles obscuring vision, sometimes completely.

  7. It could also become the natural supplier of pure silicon, produced from sand or quartz, for which there is fast-increasing global demand.

    South Australia is me native land
    Rich in flies, lizards, and sand!

    from “Bound for South Australia”

    Now if we could just monetize flies, Down Under would be on top of the world.

  8. “In 2008 the comprehensive modelling undertaken for the Garnaut Review suggested the transition would entail a noticeable (but manageable) sacrifice of Australian income in the first half of this century, followed by gains that would grow late into the second half of this century and beyond.”

    BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! If you order right now, we’ll throw in a Unicorn and Santa Clause for no extra charge!
    (Just pay extra shipping of 1 trillion dollars.)

  9. It seems to me that the U.N. didn’t like the fact that oil made countries rich and those countries were able to build new Infrastructure and economic platforms… If the middle east and russia didn’t have oil, they would collapse, as would other small nations…

    The xr and green crowd want change, but want to keep all fossil fuel products, maybe they want some of the middle east money? Or to be like the Russian billionaires?

  10. Why is there so much emphasis on Australia here? I hardly ever read anything about Australia except here.

    • DA: Maybe because Australia, along with the UK, have heavily invested in renewable energy and could be the canary in the mine?

    • Well, that is a good thing then. Australia is part of the Commonwealth/5 Eyes and there are a lot of skeptics in OZ that contribute to this blog. I like the fact that this blog is a global presence on climate and political comment, and having all the Anglo countries front and centre here assists in countering the negative narrative that is also mainly generated either in the Commonwealth or Europe about CAGW. The rest of the world, and most definitely the Third World are on the climate bandwagon either for any cash subsidies they can garner, or in the case of Russia and China, they love to see the West destroy itself with absurdities and academic malfeasance in the CAGW climate fields to which they contribute greatly in an underhand way. It is relatively cheap for everyone else to support the climate ’emergency’ and watch our power and influence in the West slowly diminish due to what is basically fake science.

    • Only because the US sees itself as the centre of the earth, around which orbits all the other countries. It seems to concern you that Australia gets coverage. Why would that be?

      • WG
        Anderson’s question, taken in the light of this blog being started by an American, operating out of California, having American moderators, and mostly American guest authors, it seems legitimate to ask why Australians seem to be in such abundance here. Aussies have their own skeptic in the form of Jo Nova. So, what is it about this blog that attracts so many from ‘down under?’

        • Jo posts an article or two every other day. WUWT posts up to 6 article in a day.

          It takes all of 5 minutes to read the article, and another 15 to read the posts. So that covers morning coffee, smoko, lunch, and afternoon tea (which is now for me).

          WUWT covers US, Canada, UK, Australia, China, and a smattering of others as they turn up.

          And it’s a polite atmosphere with great humour.

    • I hardly ever read anything about Australia

      Shame on you. OZ is a very interesting place.
      Most of the deadliest animals of the world are there.
      The slang is great, and the wines not bad.

      Your question is best addressed to Eric Worrall, but not the one that collected snake venom.

    • English is their national language so we can exchange ideas readily. Also they are generally good blokes.

  11. Here is what we knew in 2002 – still waiting for our academics and politicians to catch up.


    Allan M.R. MacRae
    Calgary Herald
    September 1, 2002

    The Kyoto Accord on climate change is probably the most poorly crafted piece of legislative incompetence in recent times.

    First, the science of climate change, the treaty’s fundamental foundation, is not even remotely settled. There is even strong evidence that human activity is not causing serious global warming.

    The world has been a lot warmer and cooler in the past, long before we ever started burning fossil fuels. From about 900 to 1300 AD, during the Medieval Warm Period or Medieval Optimum, the Earth was warmer than it is today.

    Temperatures are now recovering from the Little Ice Age that occurred from about 1300 to 1850, when the world was significantly cooler. Cold temperatures are known to have caused great misery — crop failures and starvation were common.

    Also, Kyoto activists’ wild claims of more extreme weather events in response to global warming are simply unsupported by science. Contrary to pro-Kyoto rhetoric, history confirms that human society does far better in warm periods than in cooler times.

    Over the past one thousand years, global temperatures exhibited strong correlation with variations in the sun’s activity. This warming and cooling was certainly not caused by manmade variations in atmospheric CO2, because fossil fuel use was insignificant until the 20th century.

    Temperatures in the 20th century also correlate poorly with atmospheric CO2 levels, which increased throughout the century. However, much of the observed warming in the 20th century occurred before 1940, there was cooling from 1940 to 1975 and more warming after 1975. Since 80 per cent of manmade CO2 was produced after 1940, why did much of the warming occur before that time? Also, why did the cooling occur between 1940 and 1975 while CO2 levels were increasing? Again, these warming and cooling trends correlate well with variations in solar activity.

    Only since 1975 does warming correlate with increased CO2, but solar activity also increased during this period. This warming has only been measured at the earth’s surface, and satellites have measured little or no warming at altitudes of 1.5 to eight kilometres. This pattern is inconsistent with CO2 being the primary driver for warming.


    The last big Ice Age, when Canada was covered by a one-kilometre-thick ice sheet, ended only about 10,000 years ago, and another big one could start at any time in the next 5,000 years. Mankind clearly didn’t cause the rise and fall of the last big Ice Age, and we may not have any ability to control the next big one either.

    It appears that increased CO2 is only a minor contributor to global warming. Even knowing this is true, some Kyoto advocates have tried to stifle the scientific debate by deliberate misinformation and bullying tactics. They claim to be environmentalists — why do they suppress the truth about environmental science?

    Some environmental groups supporting Kyoto also lack transparency in their funding sources and have serious conflicts of interest. Perhaps they are more interested in extorting funds from a frightened public than they are in revealing the truth.

    Do they not know or care that Kyoto will actually hurt the global environment by causing energy-intensive industries to move to developing countries, which are exempt from Kyoto emission limits and do not control even the most harmful forms of pollution?

    The Canadian government wants to meet its Kyoto targets by paying billions of dollars a year for CO2 credits to the former Soviet Union. For decades, the former Soviet Union has been the world’s greatest waster of energy. Yet it will receive billions in free CO2 credits because of the flawed structure of Kyoto. No possible good can come to the environment by this massive transfer of wealth from Canadians to the former Soviet Union.

    Kyoto would be ineffective even if the pro-Kyoto science was correct, reducing projected warming by a mere 0.06 degrees Celsius over the next half-century. Consequently, we would need at least 10 Kyoto’s to stop alleged global warming. This would require a virtual elimination of fossil fuels from our energy system. Environment Canada knows this but doesn’t really want to tell you all the economic bad news just yet.

    What would the economic impact of 10 Kyoto’s be? Think in terms of 10 times the devastating impact of the oil crisis of the 1970s (remember high unemployment, stagflation and 20 per cent mortgage rates) or 10 times the impact of Canada’s destructive and wasteful National Energy Program. Be prepared for some huge and unpleasant changes in the way you live.

    Fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) account for 87 per cent of the world’s primary energy consumption, with 13 per cent coming from nuclear and hydroelectricity. Is it possible to replace such an enormous quantity of fossil fuels?


    [end of excerpt]

    • The Kyoto Accord on climate change is probably the most poorly crafted piece of legislative incompetence in recent times.

      Was it not the work of German Greens (prior communists) meant to be advantageous to Germany?
      In that light, maybe it was well crafted.

      • John F. Hultquist:

        Green (mostly wind) power has been an economic disaster for Germany.

        The Germans have squandered about one trillion dollars on intermittent, worthless wind power schemes and have driven up energy costs so that their manufacturing is no longer competitive.

  12. Apparently they expect to mine all those minerals with renewables. They may need to supplement the mining with significant child labor.

    “. . . comprehensive modelling . . . suggested the transition would entail a noticeable (but manageable) sacrifice of Australian income in the first half of this century, followed by gains that would grow late into the second half of this century and beyond.”

    This reminds me of the promise made to Carl (Bill Murry) in Caddyshack when the Dalai Lama said Carl would receive “total consciousness” on his death bed.

  13. “in the post-carbon world we will be best positioned to turn them into zero-emission iron and aluminium (sic – lol)”

    Ross Garnaut, the writer of that article, is f@&%ing delusional. I guess this raging idiot also thinks as technological society, a society that can feed billions of people using not just fossil fuel-based agriculture, but also millions of tons of steel and other metals.
    Metals that are needed every year to replace worn out, old, farm machinery. Steel and aluminum to build now trains that take the grans to market, new trucks to move them to cities and grocery stores, and new ocean-going ships to move the agriculture products around the globe. Does Mr Garnaut the maniac really think that essential productivity of machines can also exist in a “post-carbon” world?

    No, I take that back. Ross Garnaut and his ilk, they are NOT delusional.
    Ross Garnaut and his Leftist kind are psychotically genocidal.

  14. Whenever I see that unicorn rainbow fart, I cringe. I cringe because it is obviously magic too. Refraction causes shorter wavelength light (violet) to “bend” more than longer wavelength light (red). So the colors are backwards. But then so is everything about climate change policy.

  15. “In such a world, there will be no economic sense in any aluminium or iron smelting in Japan or Korea, …” unless they opt for sensible nuclear and crank out the solar panels Australia likes so much. Does Australia really think they can convince Japan to stop making advances in nuclear technology?

    After a while when new sciences are developed, it will be possible to turn any metal into any other metal. Such nuclear technology will create enormous amounts of heat. Problem solved.

    The future is not limited to solutions invented in the past.

  16. Storage and transport of hydrogen is currently more complicated and expensive than for diesel and gasoline. The whole infrastructure for gas-oil, diesel, gasoline, etc. has been developed during the last 100 years. Transition to battery driven transport and hydrogen infrastructure in less that 100 years is most likely expensive and wasteful.
    The question is also if production and use of hydrogen is not too decentralized to serve the Green agenda of putting the blue planet into green shackles, as Vaclav Klaus says.

    • Yeahbut… It’s amazing what you can do with zero cost (I know, I know) energy. But I do not support projects that are uneconomical in the present time. Bureaucrats do not understand economics.

  17. Wow. 3 paragraphs and a whole lot of lifted text = “guest essay”

    And it wasn’t “according to the ABC” it was according to Ross Garnaut, distinguished economist and specialized in climate economics.

    Do you have any analysis at all to offer? Or just irrelevant snark?

    • Analysis wasn’t needed. Garnaut is just so obviously off the planet. Perhaps he has started living on Planet-B. You know, the one where all those ill-constructed computer models actually work.

  18. “In 2008 the comprehensive modelling undertaken for the Garnaut Review suggested the transition would entail a noticeable (but manageable) sacrifice of Australian income in the first half of this century, followed by gains that would grow late into the second half of this century and beyond.”

    TRANSLATION – Climate change is going to bring misery to people all over the world
    You let me, and a few friends, bring misery to people all over the world, in the name of fending off all that other suffering stuff. We will assume control, and you’ll only have to suffer for us, instead. Deal?

  19. “the post-carbon world” ? When did the environuts make the transition from hating carbon dioxide to hating carbon? Do they really want to get rid of carbon? Our human bodies are about 18% carbon. The same is true for most animals. Plants also contain lots of carbon and even DNA contains carbon. Life of any kind would not be possible without carbon. So what is the goal of demonizing carbon.? Do they want to end all life on earth?

  20. “Four years ago in December 2015, every member of the United Nations met in Paris and agreed to hold global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 C.”

    That’s a lie. The United States never agreed to any such thing. The Paris Accord was never submitted for ratification to the United States Senate. The Paris Accord was never voted on or ratified by the United States Senate. Maybe other countries agreed to the Paris Accord. The United States never did.

    We can only speculate why President Obama never asked the Senate to ratify the Paris Accord. I’m sure he was aware that without Senate ratification the treaty has no standing in American law. The simplest explanation is that he was aware that the Senate would probably have rejected it.

    Its the old story. Tell a lie often enough and after a while people believe it.

    • “I fear that things would fall apart.”

      I believe things will improve beyond our wildest expectations.

      Which statement has more validity?

      I would argue for the ladder, based on global trends in technology and communication. The original statement seems to be based on, well, nothing. The is no argument supporting the statement. It is just thrown out there like a ‘given’. Why do we even read this stuff?

  21. “Australia could fall apart under climate change”.
    Wow, I didn’t realize Australia was so fragile. Fall apart in what way, I wonder? Have a nervous breakdown?

    • All the green and lefty snowflakes will melt under the extra 1 degree of heat and they will corrode the bedrock of Australia and it will break up and drift apart.

  22. Hydrogen/ammonia is a good option if and when fossil fuels become too expensive, but to force a change now is foolishness, just like windmills and solar panels.

  23. From first thermodynamic principles, the whole hydrogen thing is a scientific AND economic crock. Explained in some detail with many simple concrete examples in essay Hydrogen Hype in ebook Blowing Smoke.

    • Electrolysis is only 50% efficient and fuel cells, also 50% efficient, so you are reducing overall efficiency to only about what you get on the road today. But that doesn’t matter if you have an inexhaustible energy supply. And, plenty of waste heat to keep you warm on the road in winter.

  24. Combustion byproduct of hydrogen is water vapor …..

    Isn’t water vapor the most plentiful green house gas? Hmmm.

  25. Ok, so the byproduct of Hydrogen used in fuel cells or directly in combustion is water vapor which is a main greenhouse gas.

  26. The author from the notorious The Conversation claims, “In such a world, there will be no economic sense in any aluminium or iron smelting in Japan or Korea …” Inasmuch as neither Japan or Korea are endowed with an abundance of coal or natural gas, the economics are currently questionable. With Japan decommissioning its nuclear reactor electricity base, it will soon not make sense to even recycle aluminum, let alone produce primary aluminum. Smelting is a high-risk activity with unreliable ‘renewable’ electricity. The author seems to have already forgotten about the special risks of under-sea power cables, such as the one between Tasmania and the mainland.

    I have found very few articles in The Conversation to be rigorous and reliable. It is almost as if The Conversation has become the ‘journal’ of last resort for those who can’t get published elsewhere. Yet, the editors delete comments from those who point out the errors in articles. Perhaps it is to help maintain the fiction that the articles are of high quality.

  27. Heard Ross Garnaut prattling on with Aunty the other day about zero emissions and by whenever we can manage it. Problem was I’d just returned from a short caravan sojourn from Adelaide to Port Lincoln through our wheat and barley belt and the harvest was in full swing. Thousands of acres and the diesel harvesters in full swing with the diesel road trains carrying grain to the silos temporary storages and export terminals and here was Ross blathering on about the nirvana of zero emissions. Yes imagining Ross and Co plus all the Greenies off to the fields with scythes and pitchforks with all that cutting winnowing stooking and haystack making for the world’s hungry a la Pol Pot and the Great Leap Forward. What a bunch of loons.

    • Forgetting the sheer magnitude of the costs involved in replacing all that machinery outside the normal cycle of wear and redundancy, we are not within a bull’s roar of being able to run machinery with that level of power demand for the duty cycles required of them.

    • You’re confusing Chairman Mao (Great Leap Forward, which killed at least 45m Chinese peasants) with Pol Pot (the Killing Fields, which killed no more than 3m Cambodians). Quite a poor effort, really. History will credit Saint Greta with a far higher death toll (billions).

  28. I love the Unicorn graphic, with the magical rainbow fart gas emanating from the beast’s sphincter and more than ready to power the Utopian green future. Just like hydrogen and fusion.

  29. It would be ruinous to convert the US to hydrogen in ten years, but adding a few more distribution points in Beverly Hills wouldn’t be too bad. Might even make money.

  30. As an engineer, I wish this hydrogen-thing would die, as it should. Even ignoring its dangers as a fuel, for the clueless that support it, hydrogen takes more energy to produce than it produces when burned.

    • Just checkin’ on ya, engineer. The lower heating value of hydrogen is 119.96 MJ/kg, for propane it is 46.35 MJ/kg. Now it may be that losses during production make up the difference, and they probably do, but hydrogen actually does burn hotter on a weight basis. Probably why they use it as rocket fuel.

      • pochas94: “Probably why they use it as rocket fuel.”
        A major consideration is that the impulse imparted to a rocket is proportional to the exhaust velocity of the combustion product(s). The lighter the combustion molecule(s), the higher its exhaust velocity. You can’t get lighter than hydrogen.

    • pochas94
      Condensers and storage tanks could be added for fuel-cell cars. However, that would increase the size of the vehicles (since water can’t be compressed and they will be drawing in oxygen), and it will increase the weight of the vehicle as the tank begins to fill up, decreasing the ‘gas’ mileage and affecting the performance. Any way you cut it, there are drawbacks to fuel-cell cars.

    • beng135
      You said, “…, hydrogen takes more energy to produce than it produces when burned.” So, from an energy viewpoint, it only makes sense to use hydrogen to convert stationary power sources, such as electricity, to mobile power sources, or as a storage medium. But, the electricity has to be abundant, cheap, and universally available, as from nuclear or thermonuclear reactors.

  31. If interested here are a couple of web sites I quickly found. Fuel cell cars are here today (in California). They are safe, have 250 – 350 mile driving range, refuel quickly, a kilogram of hydrogen cost $10.00 and you get 70 miles per kilogram. Hydrogen prices are expected to reach parity with gasoline as usage grows. The drawback is the present lack of fueling stations, and I don’t know about durability of the fuel cells.

  32. If the crazy liberals and greenies are as convinced that we need to drastically reduce the world’s population as they say they are, then what better way than to get them to agree to let humanity CO2 pollute itself into oblivion? In a contrary view, if we are heading into a global cooling touted by the solar physicists, then the libs and the greens should suppress warnings about the rapidly cooling climate, and when we are caught unprepared, huge segments of the population will either starve or freeze to death.

  33. Hydrogen is quite infeasible for use as a liquid fuel – the problem is its inherent miniscule energy density and the means to get even moderate energy density.

    Hydrogen is the lightest element and is a gas at room temperatures with a density of about 0.07g/litre. Its energy density is about 3.3 Wh/l (watt.hour/litre). If hydrogen is liquified this rises to 2760 Wh/l but it must be maintained at a temperature less than -240C and while this can be done in insulated containers, a lot of energy must be expended to cool it and maintain at this temperature. It can also be compressed to say 690 Atmospheres (~10,000 lb/in2 in the old units) but this also takes energy and requires massive storage vessels to resist this pressure. Both liquified and compressed Hydrogen will also consume energy in returning them to room temperature. (Compressed Hydrogen cools as it expands and must be returned to combustible temperature and liquid hydrogen must be boiled to gasify it.)

    In reality it is fairly impractical to use Hydrogen to store and transfer energy and where Hydrogen is used as a chemical in an industrial process e.g. in reduction of Nickel from its ore, it is generated where it will be used.

    There are commercially available metal hydride storage cylinders to provide storage for Hydrogen but these are extremely expensive and cannot deliver large volumes of hydrogen. For example one cylinder that stores 822 litre of Hydrogen at room temperature i.e containing 2 g of Hydrogen costs ~$5000. This is equivalent to the energy in about 250 ml of petrol. The cylinder and its contents weighs just over 5.5kg comparable to about 5 litre of petrol including its container.

    It is not that the use of Hydrogen as a fuel is impossible but it is not practicable for general use as a medium for transport and storage of energy.

    Attempting to couple hydrogen production with renewable energy generation compounds the problem because renewables (particularly wind and solar) are not produced consistently as they are subject to weather. Solar power is only available during the day (obviously) and their intensity will vary with cloud cover – it is not often realised that solar will reduce to as little as 10% of full capacity in cloudy weather and are subject to the angle of incidence of the sunlight that in most installations varies during the day. Wind power of course is also subject to weather and can be shut off in both low and high winds. Even hydropower is subject to weather although on a longer time scale than for wind and solar. Water is needed for hydropower and in drought it may be necessary to conserve water reserves for other uses (see Australia for this). Alternatively where hydropower is dependent on snow melt a snow drought can have the same effect.

    In short the idea that we can export renewable energy as Hydrogen is a ppe dream in my view.

  34. Apparently the writers of this proposal never saw an aluminum reduction pot freeze due to the lack of power.

    Nor have they considered the cost ammonia produced by hydrolysis sourced hydrogen would produce mass starvation due to the inability to pay for the ammonia.

    Nor have they considered that because most agricultural nitrogen is delivered as solid urea even poor farmers in remote locations can purchase, store, and use nitrogen fertilizers. The urea can’t be produced without the cheap (read free) carbon dioxide produced by the existing natural-gas based ammonia plants. Poor Asian countries would constitute the bulk of Australia’s hypothetical fertilizer. Just how do they expect poor farm communities in Asia exclusively to use gaseous ammonia to feed their own populations?

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