The electrolysis of water was originally not very efficient. 70% of the energy were lost in the conversion and only 30% remained available for use. Combustion engines are with 30% comparably inefficient. Even though the energy yield of solar and wind is higher in the desert, it wouldn´t have compensated for these losses including the transport. Nonetheless in any way we will have to import hydrogen. It will not be possible to produce more than 50% of the energy directly in Germany if we power our cars by electricity. The rest must be imported; and that will happen in the form of hydrogen or alcohol which can be retained more easily. If hydrogen reacts with carbondioxide you get methyl alcohol. It is retained by the gravitation of the earth and can not escape into space. Hydrogen will also be needed by industry like the steel industry. A desert area of 300x300km would be sufficient for the global energy need and does not require covering lush green land with concrete. Such a facility in Northern Africa would increase the precipitation in the Sahel again like calculations show us. If one wanted to power all cars battery electric which could be thinkable by an undersea power line through Gibraltar that would lead to another problem: The power grid in Austria can currently supply at most 70GW. For one million turbocharges à 350kW that would require unthinkable 350GW. Charging car batteries at different times would lead to up- and downturns in the energy need which could make the grid unstable. The problem of energy transfer could be solved easily if offshore windparks would directly produce hydrogen. If you wanna have a car in the future but are willing to tackle all your daily mobility needs like going for shopping or to work without the car then a combustion engine for hydrogen would make sense. It could be manufactured at lower cost than a combustion engine for fossil fuels; all the necessary infrastructure to accomplish this is already present. An undeniable advantage of hydrogen mobility is clearly that you can fuel your car in the same time as with fossil fuels. Thereby you have an uninfringed reach on where to go. Battery electric propulsion engines for lorries and trucks do not come without problems. The Guardian has already been thinking about overhead contact lines for highways. We think it would be more expensive than is necessary any way. Battery electric vehicles are even more resource intense than common cars. The lithium and other metals like cobalt shall be mined without causing too much environmental damage. People have already been thinking about deep sea mining or mining in the arctic or the rain forests. Nonetheless it will be highly important to recycle all of the batteries. A temporary after-life as stationary storage for electrical current shall be included. The question will not be either battery electric mobility or hydrogen mobility but an as well as also.
Newest technological advances allow the high temperature electrolysis of water which raises the energy yield from 30% to 80%. With high temperature electrolysis the far cheaper metal nickel can be used as catalyzer. With low temperature electrolysis if you wanted to have a catalyzer you had to use the very expensive metal platinum. Similarely to hydrogen from water, carbon monoxide can be obtained from air. Together with the hydrogen, the carbon monoxide could be used to produce synthetic fuels by the Fischer-Tropsch procedure. Absolutely essential technologies for our future.
Letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel because of the Energy Revolution
Letter from 2019-02-12Dear Mrs. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany,
Today I have read the article 'Merkel speaks of a possible failure of the energy revolution' in the DWN (Deutsche Wirtschaftsnachrichten, Germany Economy News) if the extension of power lines transporting energy from the wind parks in the North to the South does not progress as it is supposed to be. The energy revolution must not fail! Why not make use of a little bit of imagination? If an extension of power lines should be infeasible why not crack water into hydrogen and oxygen and transport the hydrogen via a gas pipeline into the South? Then there would be no problems at all with the extension of power lines (protests of residents)? I believe that a solution like this would be forward-looking, because later on when not all of Germany´s energy needs can be satisfied with local alternative energy any more it may be necessary to import hydrogren from cracked water from N-Africa any way. Scientist have calculated that in case that we build huge wind and solar energy utilities in Northern Africa this would also increase precipitation in the Sahel which has dried out due to global warming. Then we would also have sufficient energy for hydrogen powered cars.
I believe that battery driven electro cars are not a satisfactory solution. If you wanna drive on holiday you do not want a forced pause of two hours in order to recharge your car (For a second car used to drive to work this may be feasible though.). Besides this there are considerable problems with the poisonousness, the raw materials of batteries and the automatic discharging of batteries at low temperatures. Besides this it is an unclear item how the energy grid should bear the brunt of several turbo charges at the same time. Trucks and lorries as well as buses will likely never be able to be fueled by batteries. However it should be our goal to get rid of fossile energy sources up to 2050.
The construction of renewable energy parks in N-Africa does of course require that politics takes a respective stance and position on the level of the European Union. However this should not be impossible since the EU does already engage in climate protection. Finally it is better to build solar panels on a desert than on fertile farmland (We would have to use a stone desert in this regard as solar panels must not be covered with dust.).