How to switch from Oil to Electricity

Recently, during these days when the Finnish parties are preparing for the upcoming election campaign, both Vänsterförbundet and De Gröne were announcing very ambitious aims concerning the protection of the climate. Very good!

Only, when the question arises how to achieve these aims (and also how to pay for the bold ideas – a question which mainstream parties are in the habit of asking IMMEDIATELY), the answers (if there are any at all) tend to become rather nonspecific. Which may also hinder people from voting for these parties. But I feel like discussing the sentence (which I found in today’s Hbl) “De gröna vill göra trafiken eldriven …” in a bit more detail than usual:

In DER SPIEGEL 50/2018 (of 8.12.), pp. 110-112, “Strom aus der Flasche”, there was a very convincing discussion in which the problems and possibilities of electric cars were compared, considering (a) electric cars which store their supply of electricity in a battery (as in the cars produced by Elon Musk’s “Tesla”), and (b) cars which produce their electricity from a supply of hydrogen by means of a fuel cell. And in several practical aspects, also as to the availability of the necessary raw materials, the hydrogen-using car was clearly better, although the system is up to now less well established on the market (the only firm which seems to have payed very close attention to the possibility seems to be Toyota). Still, there is experience accumulating also about the hydrogen-using system: In my home region in Northern Germany there is an electric train in traffic which is running on hydrogen (see www.evb-elbe-weser.de ).

Aside of the advantages pointed out in the SPIEGEL article, I feel like pointing to further very good and promising aspects of the hydrogen system. One is that it offers a possibility of storing surplus electricity (which is up to now a HUGE problem in the discussion) in the form of hydrogen. Of course hydrogen gas would have to be stored in high-pressure tanks (from which it is relatively very good at disappearing by diffusion) or in liquid form (which demands EXTREMELY low temperatures), but for long-run storage one could also transform it into ammonia (which can be easily stored in liquid form at rather normal temperatures). It can in this form also be transported by the ship-load, can possibly be used in liquid form as a carbon-free fuel in internal combustion engines, and still easily be split again into hydrogen and nytrogen). As to producing surplus electricity, I was already in 2011, in the pages of Ny Tid, pointing to the possibility of floating wind power. There exists already a Norwegian model of floating wind power units (google “hyvind project”), which is, though, unfit for use in the Östersjö. Which would give Finland the possibility to develop (I think, easily) a model which would fit better for the conditions on the Östersjö, use it for the production of supplies of hydrogen, and even sell it with profit to other countries along the shores of the Östersjö.

Altogether, this course of action would solve quite a string of problems at the same time: it would provide energy for fossil fuel-free transportation, it would provide a possibility to store even large amounts of surplus electricity for long times, it would make it possible to produce electricity on the surface of the sea (on cheap square meters and far from complaining neighbours), and aside even earn money instead of “demanding sacrifices”. Which just leaves the problem of how to get any of our politicians to pay attention to this possibility … . Does any reader of this perhaps know a politician personally (preferably from Vänsterförbundet or De Gröna)?

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