Scientists at Korea's S&P Energy Research Institute have worked out a way of manufacturing hydrogen that's 20-30 times cheaper than current methods. Typical electrolysis methods in use take about 4 to 4.5 kWh of energy for each cubic meter of H2 gas but the new Korean method (apparently a chemical process) takes just 0.1 kWh, with associated production cost savings. Why should you care about this? Because as a component of some fuel cell technology, hydrogen might become one of the fuels of the future, and a lowering of its manufacturing costs seems like a fantastic way to help usher-in an era of hydrogen-powered gadgets. [Newswire]
@phor11: "Just use renewable wind/solar power to create the hydrogen.
Even with an inefficient process such as electrolysis, would it really be that expensive to get this started?"
Yes. Yes, it would. The appeal today of wind/solar is that they are renewable, not that they are cheap. They cost a lot to build (especially solar panels) and do have operating costs. If you use them to generate hydrogen, their costs become hydrogen's costs.
It makes no more economic sense to say "use wind/solar to generate hydrogen" than it does to say "use wind/solar to generate electricity with a turbine". The economics just ain't there... yet.