The principle is simple enough: use the energy of the sun to split water into its component oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen becomes a storable fuel that can be used when needed to run fuel cells; these will provide electricity and power vehicles. The only waste product of the fuel cells is pure water. It sounds a perfect solution to the problems of pollution and global warming caused by the burning of oil and coal, not to mention the exhaustion of the oil reserves that must come one day. But making it work has been far from easy, success requiring — among others things — cheap capture of solar energy and efficient fuel cells.
The concept has been in being for many years, as has the name hydrogen economy for a society based on it, which is recorded in the 1970s. But the concept has only started to look practicable in recent years, based in part on research that has been boosted by measures like California’s zero-emission policies and related initiatives from the European Union. Iceland has recently decided to become the world’s first hydrogen economy and this initiative has brought the phrase to wider notice.
The Icelandic government is working with the two companies to change its fishing fleet over to hydrogen and has launched a plan to convert the country entirely to a “hydrogen economy” over the next two decades.
Independent on Sunday, Jan. 2000
Mike Brown ... voices deep frustration over Canada’s failure to see the fuel cell and the hydrogen economy as a way for Canada to make a mark in the world.
Toronto Star, Jan. 2000