Hydrogen power is a little harder to understand than other power sources that one is used to experiencing every day such as the sun and wind. Hydrogen power results from the reaction of hygrogen gas and oxygen gas to create water (Karim and Strickland, 2000). This reaction creates a lot of energy that can be harnessed by fuel cells and used to produce electricity.
There are several advantages to hydrogen power. For one, it is a very clean source of energy. It releases very few harmful emissions unlike burning of fossil fuel for energy, which creates harmful greenhouse gases. Use of hydrogen power decreases the United States reliance on foreign oil. Hydrogen power can be used to power vehicles. Also, it is not reliant on weather conditions and can be produced anywhere in the world. Some of the disadvantages of hydrogen power include cost, safety hazards and small fuel cell size. It is expensive to produce, store and transport hydrogen fuel. This is partly related to safety hazards related to hydrogen gas. Hydrogen gas is highly explosive. This was disastrously demonstrated by the Hindenburg, an airship kept afloat by hydrogen gas, which is lighter than air, which exploded into flames in midair and crashed. Another drawback is the small size of fuel cells that can be used to power vehicles. Because they have such small fuel cells they have a limited range before refueling is necessary.
Each alternative energy source has its own set of advantages and disadvantages but in comparison to the major disadvantage of continuing to consume fossil fuels at an alarming rate each is well worth considering.
One of the major drawbacks to alternative energy sources in general is cost, especially initial cost. This can be overcome by technology. As technology advances new and less expensive ways to create alternative energies come into being. Also, by government and state incentives can help offset the initial costs that may be prohibitive to the average consumer. However, to keep California and the Earth the beautiful and livable places that they are for generations to come, finding a way to implement alternative energies is necessary.
California Energy Commision. Comparative costs of California central station electricity generation technologies. (June, 2007). Retrieved from http://www.energy.ca.gov/2007publications/CEC-200-2007-011/CEC-200-2007-011-SD.PDF
Department of Energy. A consumers guide: Get your power from the sun. (December 2003). Retrieved from: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/35297.pdf
Energy Information Administration. Energy kids: Renewable wind. (1998). Retrieved from http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=wind_home-basics
Energy Information Administration. Subsequent events — Californias energy crisis. (8 June 2005). Retrieved from http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/california/subsequentevents.html
Karim, N. And Strickland, J. How Fuel Cells Work. (18 September 2000). Retrieved from http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/alternative-fuels/fuel-cell.htm
Sassoon, R.E., Hermann, W.A., Hsiao, I., Milkovic, L., Simon, a.J., Benson, S.M. (2009). Quantifying the Flow of Exergy and Carbon through the Natural and Human Systems. Materials for Renewable Energy at the Society and Technology Nexus, 1170E, 4-8. Retrieved from http://gcep.stanford.edu/research/exergy/flowchart.html
Swenson, R. (2001). The coming global energy crisis. Retrieved May 18, 2010 from website http://www.energycrisis.com/.