Today’s Solutions: November 26, 2021

It is possible, it is necessary: six arguments for a fast energy revolution.

Jurriaan Kamp | August 2003 issue

Politicians, the business community and protest groups rarely agree on important issues. Except this one: the current economy, founded on the polluting burning of fossil fuels, will be succeeded by a sustainable clean economy that runs on hydrogen. This is what the presidents of the major oil companies are saying. Their colleagues in the car industry echo the prediction.
Last October the European Union issued a statement through European Commission president Romano Prodi to the effect that ‘decreasing the dependence on oil is a priority’. Even ‘oil president’ George W. Bush spoke of the hydrogen economy during his last State of the Union address in January. Both the EU and the United States have announced plans to invest billions over the coming years in research into the hydrogen economy. Such declarations are music to the ears of the numerous environmental groups that for years have been stepping into the breach in the battle against pollution and in favour of sustainability.
This consensus offers the basis for a fast energy revolution given that the technology for the hydrogen economy has already been developed and is ready for large-scale production. If all co-operate, it is realistic to envision the world’s energy supply largely switching to hydrogen within 10 years. It took less for the determined enthusiasm of John F. Kennedy to put a man on the moon.
But now political willpower is the problem. Despite the harmonious expectations of the future, there is a great deal of dispute and doubt about the pace at which the hydrogen revolution can be achieved. The business community has its ‘hidden’ agendas: oil companies want to sell as much oil as possible and car manufacturers want to profit from their investments in the current generation of cars for as long as they can. Politicians often lack the courage to implement policy that extends beyond the next elections. Which is why protestors continue to wave their banners.
Ode explains why it is economically and politically feasible – even logical and profitable – to start now with a massive and high-paced implementation of the hydrogen economy. (And no, we won’t dive into a discussion about global warming.)


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