Is There An Engineering Approach For The Transition To A Sustainable Hydrogen Economy?
Free (open access)
523 - 534
M. F. Platzer
In the paper “Assessing Dangerous Climate Change: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature” published in PLOS One, 3 December 2013, James Hansen and thirteen co-authors warn about the possibility of irreversible climate change and its catastrophic effect on the world population. The question, therefore, needs to be answered as to whether the global warming phenomenon is becoming irreversible due to the complex global systems dynamics involved in satisfying the global energy demand. In this paper, the arguments that tend to support the irreversibility hypothesis are analyzed first. It is then shown that there may still be time to reverse the warming trend by tapping into a hitherto unexplored energy resource, namely the wind over vast ocean areas. The key to a complete conversion to emission-free power production, therefore, may be a fleet of large sailing ships equipped with hydro-turbines and electrolysers to split the seawater into hydrogen, which is then compressed and shipped back to shore. This “energy ship concept” therefore requires no new technology development effort, thus strengthening the argument that a transition to a sustainable hydrogen economy is possible.
complex systems, climate change, ocean winds, renewable energy production, sailing ships