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Elon Musk Says Hydrogen Is "The Most Dumb Thing" for Energy Storage

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is well known for his hatred of hydrogen, having expressed his strong opinions on the matter several times. In a recent interview with Financial Times, Musk reiterated his skepticism about hydrogen’s role in a more sustainable future. In his strongest words yet, Musk said hydrogen is “the most dumb thing I could possibly imagine for energy storage.”
Elon Musk during FT interview 6 photos
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As many times before, during various interviews, Musk has been asked by the FT reporter if he thought hydrogen had a role to play in accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels.

No. I really can’t emphasize this enough — the number of times I’ve been asked about hydrogen, it might be … it’s well over 100 times, maybe 200 times,” said Musk, obviously exasperated. “It’s important to understand that if you want a means of energy storage, hydrogen is a bad choice.”

It does not naturally occur on Earth, so you either have to split water with electrolysis or crack hydrocarbons,” he told the Financial Times. “When you’re cracking hydrocarbons, you really haven’t solved the fossil fuel problem, and the efficiency of electrolysis is poor. So you really are spending a lot of energy to split hydrogen and oxygen.”

And if you have to liquefy hydrogen, oh my God,” he continued. “The amount of energy required to make hydrogen and turn it into liquid form is staggering. It is the most dumb thing that I could possibly imagine for energy storage.”

As you can see, Musk talks about hydrogen as energy storage specifically because you need to spend energy to get hydrogen. It’s not exactly like storing that energy into hydrogen, as you do with batteries, but it’s close. Despite that, hydrogen is easier to store for long periods and fairly easy to transport over long distances, so it can work as a means of energy storage better than Li-Ion batteries.

As long as it’s produced from renewable sources using green energy, hydrogen can be great for replacing fossil fuels like natural gas. It can also be considered an “energy carrier,” as it can be used to transport the energy obtained from renewables over long distances. As for hydrogen’s use to power vehicles, either in fuel cells or in combustion engines, we have to give Elon Musk some credit.

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