Friday, January 30, 2015

Japan Bets Big on Hydrogen Power

I read a report today that Japan will invest $385,000,000 on building a network of Hydrogen fueling stations across the nation. That should provide for enough fueling stations to pretty much cover all of Japan, plus all the support infrastructure required.  I would call that a major league commitment to hydrogen as a clean, inexhaustible transportation fuel. It's no surprise that Japan has choosen to lead the world on hydrogen. Toyota and Honda have major commitments to hydrogen fuel cell cars. 

Europe has also committed millions of Euros to the construction of hydrogen fueling stations across the continent.

Where does that leave us in North America? The short answer is behind...a long way behind. In the US and Canada, energy policy is still controlled by the fossil energy industry. They own the Congress on this issue. The same is true in Canada, where the conservative government is focused on smoothing the path for the Keystone XL pipeline, that will carry dirty Canadian tar sands oil down through the US to ports in the American south. From there,  mega-tankers loaded with crude depart across the the rest of the world. 

It's true, the price of gasoline has dropped substantially in recent months due to a glut of oil in the world market.  Cheap gas is certainly easy on the wallet, but current low prices are just a temporary reprieve. Beyond the economics, we humans have an obligation to future generations to disconnect ourselves from dirty fuels. That is the only answer to the overriding global problem of pollution driven atmospheric warming. 

Hydrogen as a fuel option is not a panacea, but  it is a very important part of a cost effective,  clean energy mosaic that can and ultimately will make coal, oil, and natural gas old news.   Bravo to Japan for leading the way on hydrogen infrastructure development.

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