HTAP Panel Answers Questions at WHEC
by Robert L. Mauro,
Executive Vice President, National Hydrogen Association
The Hydrogen Technical Advisory Panel held an
international public hearing on the afternoon of Monday, 22 June 1998, at
the World Hydrogen Energy Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A panel
of international participants was organized to provide information regarding
the commercial introduction of hydrogen into the world energy mix. The individuals
that composed the panel were: Juan Carlos Bolcich of Argentina, Bao Deyou
of China, O. N. Shrinavasta of India, Carl-Jochen Winter of Germany, Kazukiyo
Okano of Japan, and Sig Gronich and Nejat Veziroglu of United States.
The panel answered previously composed questions
given aloud by HTAP Chairman Dave Nahmias. The floor was then open to questions
from the audience. Some of the similarities and differences in the views
expressed by each country regarding the introduction of hydrogen were surprising.
R&D Goals for Hydrogen Programs
The first question presented by the advisory
panel was: What are the most important R&D goals in your hydrogen
program? While the developed countries saw a move directly to hydrogen-powered
fuel cells for both stationary power and transportation, Argentina, China,
and India viewed the process differently.
China has coal reserves of more than 30 billion
tons and has become an importer of petroleum. The Chinese seek underground
coal gasification technology to produce either hydrogen directly or methanol,
sequestering the CO2. Their population wants cleaner
transportation in its cities. This means the promotion of two-, three-,
and four-wheeled vehicles that run on fuel cell power.
India is looking to use hydrogen directly in
internal combustion engines with fuel cells a second generation technology.
Argentina sees development following the same path as India, and would like
to create a center for each hydrogen technology. While developing countries
want to use indigenous resources and current technology, the developed countries
want to move in the near term directly to hydrogen in fuel cells.
Hydrogen Energys Most Promising Markets
Next, the panelists were asked what the most
promising markets for hydrogen energy were. The Canadians said that the
market was for fuel cells in transportation. The Canadians saw industry
leading the effort in solving the need for refueling stations. In addition
to transportation, the Canadians saw early opportunities in distributed
power and urban transportation.
Germany saw the market opportunities in electrolytic
production and remote power as well as the application mentioned by the
Canadians. They viewed hydrogen-related technologies as possible exports
of clean energy systems to the rest of the world.
The Japanese viewed the early hydrogen market
as buses, taxis, and government fleets. They saw a need for development
of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. This vision included industry set-up of
distribution and dispensing systems with the help of government subsidies
with early markets using by-product hydrogen.
The United States position was the same as Japans
regarding the early market. The only addition was the introduction of residential
fuel cells. Germany indicated that they did not see coal used to produce
hydrogen, but only used to produce electricity.
The Argentinians said that they had two isolated
regions in the country that could use renewable energy and hydrogen. There
are two million people in the country that could use remote power. They
look to funding from the World Bank for wind/hydrogen projects. All of Latin
America is a market. In urban areas, pollution is a problem and there is
interest in hydrogen-powered buses.
China said clean energy is important. Electricity
production in China is mostly from polluting sources. In addition, electric
service is inadequate in cities. Fuel cells are necessary to strengthen
electric infrastructure. The best gifts to the Chinese people are solar
battery and fuel cell systems for areas without electricity.
India sees its early hydrogen market as hydrogen-powered
buses. It requires fuel cells to cost US$500/kW in five years to enter widespread
use on the electric grid. Storage and safety are large issues and there
is interest in hydride and liquid hydrogen storage to reduce risks.
The Main Barriers for Hydrogen Energy Systems
The next question posed to the panel was, What
are the most pressing issues or barriers facing successful implementation
of hydrogen energy systems? Every panel member identified cost of
both the devices and the hydrogen as a major barrier to commercial introduction
of hydrogen. Lack of infrastructure was also mentioned by the majority of
the panelists as a major barrier to commercialization.
Other points made by the panelists were: the
lack of public awareness about hydrogen and, therefore, exaggerated fear
of hydrogen; obtaining government support to view hydrogen as a form of
environmental clean-up and buy down the price accordingly; the lack of codes
and standards for hydrogen technologies; and the need to improve storage
technology. In addition, both India and China mentioned the lack of good
hydrogen distribution systems in their countries.
Finally, the panelists were asked to comment
on their countries level of international collaboration and how it
can be improved. Most panelists responded that the IEA, ISO TC197, and joint
research activities were the principal methods of international collaboration.
Collaboration can be improved through: South American Common Market participation
in developing hydrogen priorities and World Bank financing; greater bilateral
and multilateral agreements on hydrogen research between countries; greater
communication between representatives of different countries at National
Hydrogen Association meetings; and international forums like HYFORUM 2000,
which brings together individuals in policy, business, and technology.
Individual Comments Worth Noting
Several individuals comments made at the
end of the session are worth noting. Government demonstrations must be based
on good business opportunities. The hydrogen community must attract high-level
political leaders, such as energy ministers, to their meetings. Politicians
can create markets through credits, taxes, or regulations. The cost of energy
must include the consequences of the pollution it creates. A number of hydrogen
associations have been formed recently, especially in Europe; these associations
are supported by the European Union.
In conclusion, we know the markets and we know
the barriers. What are we going to do about removing the barriers and demonstrating
commercial products in the target markets? This is the task ahead. Over
the next two years, each country will work to achieve research goals, develop
markets, remove barriers, and cooperate with each other in pursuit of hydrogen
commercialization. In Beijing, the hydrogen community will again measure
its progress toward that goal.
©1998. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of
the National Hydrogen Association.
This material may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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