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Does a Hydrogen Economy Make Sense?


The establishment of a sustainable energy future is one of the most
pressing tasks of mankind. With the exhaustion of fossil resources the
energy economy will change from a chemical to an electrical base. This
transition is one of physics, not one of politics. It must be based on
proven technology and existing engineering experience. The transition
process will take many years and should start soon. Unfortunately,
politics seems to listen to the advice of visionaries and lobby groups.
Many of their qualitative arguments are not based on facts and physics.
A secure sustainable energy future cannot be based on hype and activism,
but has to be built on solid grounds of established science and
engineering. In this paper the energy needs of a hydrogen economy are
quantified. Only 20%-25% of the source energy needed to synthesized
hydrogen from natural compounds can be recovered for end use by
efficient fuel cells. Because of the high energy losses within a
hydrogen economy the synthetic energy carrier cannot compete with
electricity. As the fundamental laws of physics cannot be chanced by
research, politics or investments, a hydrogen economy will never make