Q & A

The following is a list of frequently asked questions and answers about RH₂. You be be wondering, “Won’t hydrogen explode?” Or, “Is a feed-in tariff the best way to realize 100% renewable energy usage?”

Isn’t hydrogen still an energy source of the distant future?

A method to generate hydrogen through electrolysis of water and fuel cells was already invented during the industrial revolution more than 200 years ago. A mechanism of realizing a cyclical energy system, starting with water and returning to water was considered, but it was not given a lot of attention because at the time, fossil fuels were easier to handle and much cheaper.made up of water and back to water was already considered, but it was not noticed because fossil fuels were easier to handle and much cheaper.

However, it is only due to a slight of hand that fossil fuel is so cheap. That trick is the huge subsidies paid by governments to fossil fuel and electric companies. According to an announcement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that calculates to about $5.3 trillion USD per year*. Thanks to these subsidies, the price of gasoline is artificially kept to the level of bottled water. RH₂ society will be accelerated and realized as money and technological development being diverted to fossil fuels and nuclear power plants, are instead invested in hydrogen

※iMF Direct “Act Locally, Resolve Globally: The Problem with $ 5.3 trillion USD of Energy Subsidies” (PDF).

Won’t hydrogen explode?

If you understand the characteristics of hydrogen, and handle it carefully, it will not explode easily. Hydrogen is the lightest gas in the universe, so even if it leaks, it will quickly diffuse into the air through even a small hole. The hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station was the result of equipment design that does not allow for the escape of gases (which contain radioactive material). On the other hand, because propane and gasoline are heavy, if they leak, they will accumulate on the ground, leading to a major fire or explosion. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, there were many instances of gasoline, propane, and heavy oil leaking and causing a major fire with serious damages.

For more information, please read “Hydrogen Safety.”

Why can’t you use renewable energy as is?

What can be used ‘as is’ is electricity. However, the timing of generating electricity using renewable energy may not always match when the end user (e.g. homeowner) needs to use it. In order to meet electricity demands in a stable fashion, you need to be able to store the energy. At present, power companies generate more electricity than demanded by the market, so even if demand suddenly increases there won’t be a blackout.

Isn’t it better to store renewable energy in batteries?

The significant benefit of storing hydrogen is that you can store a large volume as long as you have a tank. For items with the scale of a mobile phone, camera, cars, or 1kW of solar power, a small battery which can be recharged may be sufficient. But not the case for a house. That will require a huge battery. Depending on conditions, the volumetric energy density of a lithium ion battery is only 1/3 of 350 atmospheres (atm) of compressed hydrogen. Also, battery life is limited. If you a battery for five years, the ability to hold a charge will decrease, and depending on how it is being used, it might not be usable immediately. True, a battery can be recycled to some extent, but it will definitely have an environmental impact. In addition, the electricity stored in a battery will naturally decrease over time. In the case of hydrogen, unless there is a leak, there will be no loss of hydrogen in the tank, and no deterioration with regards to the energy stored. Lastly, there is no need to constantly throw away waste.

If companies being more engaged will spread this technology, why isn’t that the case?

Companies develop their businesses according to market needs. First and foremost, as many people as possible should learn about and practice RH₂. Further, if all policy mechanisms such as subsidies and deregulation are organized in a way to facilitate business development, private investment will increase and huge markets will emerge, making technological innovation and cost reduction possible. It is necessary for each person to act politically, so that the policy is implemented with a clear mandate from the people.

Can 100% renewable energy be achieved with a FIT?

A feed-in tariff (FIT) is based on the existing power system, which requires a centralized power company and a huge grid. In order to distribute renewable energy over a wide area, it is necessary to create a larger grid. Systems that rely on power lines are at risk in the event of a disaster. In addition, if we cannot store locally produced renewable energy, we have no choice but to sell it, making the path to true local energy independence a far off dream. It might look like a detour, but local self-sustaining energy infrastructure with RH₂ at its core, with energy stored and used locally is actually a shortcut to the goal of 100% renewable energy.

What should I do first if I want to make RH₂ at home?

First, we need a mechanism to generate electricity from renewable energy, like a solar panel. Further, with only 7kWh of renewable energy a day, we can supply hydrogen for one household’s daily life. Also, in any hydrogen storage device, such as a fuel cell,  a tank for storing hydrogen, such as hydrogen storage alloy or a high pressure cylinder, is required. Outside of solar panels, for these systems to work we must be able to mass-produce lots of 100,000+ units. The RH₂ Network promotes the development of RH₂ systems for home-use.