If you use solar
to make hydrogen, you do not end up with less energy than you started with since you started with nothing; you are essentially using hydrogen to store and transport that energy in a form that is 100% available.
Wow, you made a mighty leap from my answering a question of where does the energy for electric
cars come from to me telling poor people that they need to stay poor. I didn't make that leap, it's an inconvenient truth you apparently just don't want to accept.
There's a lot you missed in that leap, by the way, like how "3rd world" countries are taking advantage of technological advances, while the redneck USA is choosing to stay behind. Here's an example we can all agree on: cellphones. Some countries completely skipped building telephone transmission
grids and were faster in universal adoption of cell phones than the USA was. Now the USA can't build a cell phone
and are forced to buy from people who you consider "3rd world."
OK, I get that you don't like the "redneck USA" but your suggestion that 3rd world countries are leading the US in technology due to greater vision is just silly. I happen to have known one of the pioneers in setting up the cellphone systems in a South American country (he's from Massachusetts, USA and made a bundle on it) and the reason the market was there was due to their acute lack of traditional land line infrastructure. Here in the "redneck USA," we had telephone lines just about everywhere so there wasn't the same need for cellphone communications here in the early days, however he could offer something to a country that they didn't have and couldn't afford to get any other way, the ability to communicate from almost everywhere.
You seem to be unaware of many corporations and individuals throughout the world, including the USA, who have invested in alternative energy sources, including fuel
cells. But like I said, I'm not proselytizing, just stating facts. I always wonder why people get defensive when they are shown the facts. Unaware?! Like I said, fuel cells have existed for quite a while, mostly in applications where small size is important and cost is low on the list of priorities. That's not most of the world. Tell me about your fuel cell, or if they're such a great idea, why don't you have one?
The unreliability of solar
energy is not an issue. Annual average insolation and wind resource is well-known. So if you want to make X amount of hydrogen per year, and your process requires Y amount of electricity per year, you build a photovoltaic generation plant be capable of creating Y times whatever safety
factor you want using the average yearly insolation. It's capital intensive, but it's not rocket science. This is an area that the redneck USA is lagging and will be second- or third-tier in my lifetime. Of course the unreliability of solar and wind energy is an issue! How do you run a factory when nobody knows when there might be enough power available to run the equipment? I'm not sure where you think we'll be "lagging?" No, what you suggest is certainly not rocket science but there's that little "capital intensive" issue that you don't seem to understand the critical importance of. If someone is going to build a plant to make hydrogen, they will be doing it in an attempt to make money. You don't make money by making your plant WAY more expensive to build upfront than your competitions plant was, and you don't make money by choosing an energy source that will make your plant less reliable than theirs, and that's why nobody is doing and won't do it until it's economically feasible to. If you and thousands of others who feel as you do really think it's such a visionary thing to do, why doesn't someone organize it so you can pool all your life savings and 401K plans and build it and retire off the profits it generates? Because you'd all lose your shirts and you know it. That's the same reason it's a bad idea for anyone else too.
From an economic viewpoint, all change brings on opportunity. Established industries are challenged by new paradigms. If they adopt they will flourish along with the new economy. If they stubbornly resist changes, they will die off. If a society buys into the old-schoolers' fear mongering of economic catastrophe, the whole society will slip into obsolescence. This has happened many times in the past. It is exactly what is happening in the USA. From an economic standpoint, paying way more than your competition for the energy to run your factory means that you will seen be forced to embrace the old school paradigm of "going out of business." Change is great...when it makes sense both practically and financially, but no society or industry is going to "slip into obsolescence" because they don't have enough solar cells, at least as long as solar cells are among most expensive form of electricity generation out there and other alternatives still exist.
You are correct about needing standby generating and transmission
capability in the case of people putting PV arrays on their roofs and feeding their excess onto the grid. There may be some benefit to doing so, but net-metering is forced on the utilites by state and local governments, and is one of the stupidest policies that exist. And that is saying a LOT.
Speaking of misguided policies, when you discuss costs, you do not mention the societal costs of obtaining and burning fossil fuels (like health
, ecosystem degradation). These costs are not embedded in the prices of fuel or electricity as they should be. If they were (say like a carbon tax), the financial considerations of clean energy would shift substantially. I do understand the societal costs of obtaining and burning fossil fuels (my non-smoking uncle recently died of lung cancer with no family history of it), but you don't seem to understand the much greater societal costs of making energy so expensive that hundreds of millions of people will be forced to remain living in 3rd world poverty. I realize that acknowledging that would throw a big monkey wrench into your "reasoning" but it's absolutely true. If we had to, you and I can probably somehow scrape together the additional $$$ to pay a lot more for energy, but for it to really matter, it's something everyone would have to embrace and there's a whole lot of folks in 3rd world countries who simply cannot afford it so would have to do without energy. That means no heat or shelter, starvation, much higher mortality for them. That's not hyperbole, it's grim reality. The one biggest reason we all live in relative luxury compared to most of the world is we took advantage of and are still using relatively cheap energy. Is it really fair to the hundreds of millions of people who would also like to be lifted out of poverty by cheap energy to not get their chance too? Maybe not here on this forum, but eventually you'll have to confront that question because there are literally hundreds of millions of people who will bring it to your attention if people like you succeed in making energy more expensive as an unintended consequence of feel good policies. There are 2 sides to the "societal costs" equation and you can't just ignore one side because it suits your argument to.
It's very difficult to assess a monetary value on those costs; I hope people take individual responsibility before it is forced upon them by government