By now, many have heard about plans by big carmakers including Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai to launch hydrogen fuel-cell cars commercially around 2015. Daimler, Ford, and Nissan plan to launch such cars around 2017. Germany plans to build at least 50 hydrogen fuelling stations by 2015 as the start of a countrywide network. Japan and Korea have announced similar plans.
But a bigger, largely unreported, message is that some European countries, especially Germany, have launched projects that combine renewables like solar and wind with hydrogen for energy storage, implying clean, zero-emission, stable power grids that require no coal, oil, or nuclear power.
Indeed, the bottom line of a new study by two American researchers, Willett Kempton and Cory Budischak, is that the combination of renewables and hydrogen storage could fully power a large electricity grid by 2030 at costs comparable to those today. Kempton and Budischak designed a computer model for wind, solar, and storage to meet demand for one-fifth of the US grid. The results buck ''the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive'', says Mr Kempton.
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