Local View: Nebraska’s energy future | Columnists

There are 1,600 miles of H-gas pipelines in the U.S. but there is a bright spot. European studies have determined that, in most cases, H-gas can be transported in existing natural gas pipelines. Existing natural gas pipelines represent a low-cost option for transporting H-gas. Much more information about these studies is available online.

There would be needed changes: pumps to compress H-gas for transport in pipelines, plants built to generate H-gas using solar power, conversion of devices currently using propane and natural gas, and building fuel cells to convert H-gas to electricity for homes.

Fuel cells are already used in many applications. We know how to do the above, the technology is in place. There are proposals to convert natural gas to H-gas. The main issue is what to do with the residue carbon. Still, H-gas has advantages overall because of available solar energy.

Wind and solar cells generating electricity are already competitive with fossil fuels and in many situations cheaper. In California, communities with solar cells on roofs have a net export of electricity.

Farmers can gain regular income from wind turbines and even more income for solar cell collectors on poorer soils. For existing communities, replacing natural gas with H-gas in their pipelines would enable them to tap into the power of solar energy for heating, cooling and electricity.