The simplest molecule presents the best opportunity for energy. With global energy demands projected to rise 66% by 2030, the world desperately needs alternatives to fossil fuels. Hydrogen power, a recent media phenomenon, presents an enticing alternative – one whose development reaches much further back than most imagine. -When people hear ‘hydrogen power,’ they don’t realize that we’ve been working on it for 25 years, says Trygve Riis, the Norwegian chairman of the International Energy Agency’s Hydrogen Implementation Agreement (IEA-HIA). -The world has already made significant progress in hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and safety.
Riis spoke at a press briefing in Washington, DC, where he unveiled the IEA-HIA’s 25th anniversary report, In Pursuit of the Future: 25 Years of IEA Research Towards the Realisation of Hydrogen Energy Systems. "Hydrogen is one of the few options we have for meeting energy demands without increasing global carbon dioxide emissions,” said Giorgio Simbolotti, PhD, an IEA program officer who also spoke at the briefing.
In 2004, governments worldwide will spend about $1 billion (US) on hydrogen research and development; corporations will spend another $5 billion (US) – both figures all-time highs. Much of this investment is spurred by the HIA’s drive to develop ’baseline’ hydrogen technologies. "We have an ambitious vision, but the challenges are significant, said Riis. The first challenge is production. Today the world produces roughly 40 million tonnes of hydrogen per year, most used for making ammonia and, ironically, for refining fossil fuels. If used for energy, the world’s annual hydrogen output would satisfy just 0.1% of the world’s energy needs," said Simbolotti.
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