Hydrogen Is As Broadly Useful As Hemp, And Will Be Used Just As Much


Excerpt from cleantechnica.com

As one very excited market report said, the 2020 global market share for industrial hemp was $5.6 billion. It’s a useful agricultural product, and it’s still used for a bunch of stuff.

But here’s the thing: Our world runs on specialization, not generalization. If a country is really good at making cars, and mediocre at making wine, but the country next door makes mediocre cars and great wine, they are really better off doing what they are good at. And the same is true for materials and plants.

Hemp can do a lot of things adequately, but most of the things it could do are done better and more cheaply by something else that’s less versatile.

Which brings us to hydrogen. Right now about 120 million tons of hydrogen are used annually for things that hydrogen is actually good for. It’s all made from fossil fuels with zero attention to pollution and CO2 emissions, and as a result, it’s cheap. Per S&P Platts hydrogen spot price index, a kilogram of pure hydrogen costs $1.25 to $2.00 USD in the USA today. As I’ve written about extensively, a large majority of it is used for things it’s good for at that price point, which includes stripping the sulphur out of fossil fuels — a market which has to go away — and making fertilizer — another market which has to go away. Why do they have to go away? Climate change. They are both massive contributors to climate change, and as a result have to be fixed, not just replaced with low-carbon hydrogen. We have to stop turning crude oil into fossil fuels, and we have to stop spreading lots of fertilizer onto fields, were it turns into 6x the CO2e of its mass in nitrous oxide, a major greenhouse gas in its own right.