Arnold Kling  

Economics of Hydrogen

Stock Prices and Scandals... Is Copyright Necessary?...

Gregg Easterbrook lets a lot of the air out of the hydrogen balloon.

Pure hydrogen is not an energy source, except to stars. As it will be used in cars or to power homes and offices, hydrogen--like a battery--is an energy medium, a way to store power that has been obtained in some other way...hydrogen is going to be an expensive energy medium and, in the early decades at least, will be a medium either for natural gas, a fossil fuel, or for atomic power.

For Discussion. What are some of the reasons that economists would advocate taxes and subsidies related to outcomes, such as pollution, rather than means of achieving outcomes, such as hydrogen power?

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COMMENTS (2 to date)
David Thomson writes:

“Jeremy Rifkin numbers among current hydrogen zealots--while skipping over the small matter of where we get the hydrogen.”

Shucks, I guess I’m just a cynical dude. It seems to me that those who are most infatuated with the idea of hydrogen power could care less whether it makes any sense. On a gut level, they merely conclude: “Water isn’t yucky like that nasty oil. It’s clean and pure. Therefore, it’s got to be a good thing.” Why let a few facts get in the way of one’s utopian schemes?

Donald W. Bales writes:

How will hydrogen power really help us? If it has to come from natural gas, coal, oil, or atomic energy, how will it really help? I understand that it is not polluting, but won't the processes needed to obtain it be polluting and also, except for atomic, use up non-renewable energy sources? However, doesn't using atomic power use up non-renewable energy?
Only solar or wind seem to be useful and practical sources of non-renewable and non-polluting of energy. Of course, hydroelectric is there, but haven't most of the useful places been utilized. It does take material and energy to build a dam and a power plant, doesn't it?

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