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No scale-up—tons of tech hurdles and incumbent alternatives

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No scale-up—tons of tech hurdles and incumbent alternatives

Pallares 12 *Cesar O., Instituto de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnología [The Barriers for a Hydrogen Economy, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2060304, May 15th]
The first step for hydrogen for being an energy paradigm is to actually have the capability to be that paradigm, e.g. the technological aspects of hydrogen have to be energy efficient and economically plausible. In current state of arts, the technology to produce hydrogen already exist, but what it is not clear is if that technology is scalable to a such level that it is capable to afford the consumers demand, at the moment they require it and a cost that is competitive in the market (Hisschemöller et al., 2006). Currently, there is a commercial production of hydrogen with a global demand of 50 million tons, whTch is desrgnated for the chemicals sector and fertiltzer industry; but tt has been estimated that by 2030, 24 million tons of hydrogen are required to meet only the 5% of European transport market. (Hetland & Mulder, 2007). Making an extrapolation of this result, the hydrogen has to expand its current production by 9 times in order to supply only the European demand in twenty years, ceteris paribus. In this order hydrogen has to overcome three fundamental technical difficulties: productions, storage, distribution, which by now are not technical efficient, least, are not scalable and even less economically competitive, solutions for them For example Ball and Wietschel (2009) estimated that oil price have to be suited permanently above USD $ 60Fbanel for an economically competitive production of hydra gen but they did not take in mind that natural gas prices would go down, so that “pivot” price has to be even lower. With respect to production, the main difficulty relays on the hydrogen extraction from nature, since it can be found almost everywhere but not in a pure form. There are many technological alternatives for it, but it has been found a trade off in them: producers have to choose if they want a low-emissions technology or they want an economically efficient technology. The portfolio goes from carbon, or gas natural, based extraction to a water based extraction, with electrolysis (Padró & Putsche, 1999); even more, the extraction demands energy, so the producers also have to choose which energy source the will use in their production process: most of current research is devoted to find the best energy source for the extraction, but there is no consensus about the results (Berry & Aceves, 2006; Bossel et al., 2005; Valero Matas, 2010; Valero Matas & Romay Coca, 2011).3 Nevertheless, production problem is the one that is closer to find its solution, while the other ones remain as high polemic among the experts on them, (Valero Matas, 2010). For example, storage is one of the hardest problems about hydrogen, since this is a low density gas, and it is needed large space to storage it, which in turns creates a danger because it is a flammable gas;4 and, if we talk about hydrogen-supported vehicles, they must have a big fuel tank, so the available space for passenger would be less, making the vehicle less attractive for people, (Bossel et al., 2005). Even more, there is no consensus about how many miles can the vehicle run before it has to be recharged: if large auto-sufficiency is desired, then the vehicle has to have bigger storage capacity, but if more space is desired, then there have to be recharge-infrastructure near to all consumers, otherwise the hydrogen will never be a real option for energy paradigm.5 But what has been said only is truth for a low scale market, with only pilot projects already realized and for a demand that only requires small amounts of hydrogen each time. New problems will rise when the sector makes a step forward and tries to reach bigger markets: current technology is not able, and has not been developed, and the cost is too high to be competitive. (Valero Matas & Romay Coca, 2011).

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