Engineering Dean Shares One Earthshot

–submitted by Valerie Renk

“Don’t buy a hydrogen car today; but it’s coming,” Rotarians heard from UW College of Engineering Dean Ian Robertson May 3.

“President Biden has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emission in half of 2005 levels by 2030; by 2050 we need to be at zero,” Robertson said. “We need to figure out how to decarbonize, and hydrogen will play a role. For example, hydrogen will be needed to heat our homes, fly our planes, deliver our Amazon packages. This will support clean air technology.”

Most of the energy we produce today is through coal and natural gas. The challenge is if we want more renewables, this is now at only 20% of energy consumed. Most of that is wind and hydroelectric, which means we need to store energy, such as with batteries, or convert to hydrogen.

We have “Six Earthshots to reach our carbon footprint: Hydrogen, LT energy storage, CO2 reductions, geothermal, offshore wind, reviewing manufacturing carbon footprints.

Focusing on the first earthshot, hydrogen, DOE wants us to reduce the cost of hydrogen 80 percent. Ten million metric tons needs to be produced. This doubles our solar and wind capacity through storage. Engineers, welders…a total of 700,000 jobs will be needed for this.

Hydrogen production methods include using natural sources, and manufacturing with fossil fuel, nuclear power or renewable sources.

“In addition to the cars and planes, we will need fertilizers to maintain food needs, metals for manufacturing, chemicals….hydrogen will be integral for all of these and more. How do we produce and deliver is the question,” Robertson said.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here:

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