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Andreas Kluth

How Hydrogen Is and Isn’t the Future of Energy

Forget powering cars with fuel cells and the like. The killer app for hydrogen is helping to electrify everything.

It’s a gas.

It’s a gas.

Photographer: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

Surely hydrogen is the future of energy. Why else would the European Union, as part of its Green Deal, plan to shovel 470 billion euros ($550 billion) into infrastructure to electrolyze and use the stuff? Why else would China, Japan and South Korea be placing their own huge bets on the gas?

The enthusiasm about hydrogen has a simple reason: Whether it’s used in a fuel cell or burned to create heat, the only “exhaust” it emits is innocently clean water. Therefore, wherever hydrogen replaces fossil fuels, it helps slow global warming. That explains the worldwide race to dominate the various niches of a market projected by some banks to be worth trillions of dollars by 2050.