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The New Hydrogen Economy: Third Time’s the Charm?

March 3, 2021

By Henry Cialone
President & CEO, EWI

I experienced my first hydrogen economy in the early 1980s. I had just started working at Battelle, and the emerging hydrogen science seemed to provide an answer to many of the world’s energy questions. Within a few years, however, people stopped asking those questions. Or lost interest in hydrogen as the answer. Or both. I’m not sure what happened, but the interest was fleeting.

My second hydrogen economy took place during the mid-2000s. This time, it was more narrowly focused on fuel cells and their potential applications — and we all thought hydrogen would take off because of growing concern about carbon emissions.

But despite all the attention, that didn’t happen. For a host of reasons, including the advent of advanced batteries as an alternative to fuel cells and the realization that hydrogen was being produced largely from methane, hydrogen-as-energy simply wasn’t achievable at that time.

So here we are, embarking on another hydrogen economy. And I find myself thinking that perhaps this one really will take hold. Let me explain why…

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