点击经济学人/经济学人杂志查看全部经济学人文章

一、经济学人杂志双语文章摘要

氢气也可以代替天然气用于供暖。这方面的一大优势是它可以利用现有的基础设施,也就是目前用于运输天然气的管道。澳大利亚、英国和德国等国家正在测试这种方案。“我们已经有一个燃气网,至少可以再使用75年,”运营英国电力和燃气网络的英国国家电网公司(National Grid)的工程师安东尼·格林(Antony Green)说,“如果可以的话,为什么不利用它呢?”

二、经济学人杂志双语文章中英对照翻译

Another look in the toy box 再看一眼玩具盒

2020.11


Hydrogen power 氢能
After many false starts, hydrogen power might now be about to bear fruit
在多次起步失误之后,氢能或许即将结出硕果 

经济学人双语杂志

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM holds that battery-powered cars are the future of motoring. But Hyundai, a big South Korean vehicle-maker, is not so sure. Over the past few months it has been running a worldwide public-relations campaign extolling the virtues of an alternative source of electrical power—fuel cells. Instead of storing and then releasing electricity gathered from the mains in the way that a battery does, a fuel cell generates current from a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen comes from the air. The hydrogen, suitably compressed, is stored in a tank on board the vehicle, and is replenished at a filling station, like petrol. Unlike a battery, a fuel cell does create exhaust. But that exhaust is simply the reaction product of hydrogen and oxygen, namely water.
传统观点认为,电池驱动的汽车是汽车的未来。但韩国大型汽车制造商现代并不完全相信这一点。过去几个月中,它一直在全球范围内开展一项公关活动,宣传另一种电源——燃料电池——的优点。燃料电池不是像电池那样把市电的电力储存起来然后再释放,而是通过氢和氧之间的化学反应产生电流。氧来自空气。适当压缩的氢气存在车辆的储罐中,并在加氢站那里像加油一样补充。与电池不同,燃料电池确实会产生排放。但这些排放只是氢和氧的反应产物,也就是水。
Hyundai’s campaign features members of BTS, a mop-topped South Korean boy-band, staring dreamily into the middle distance amid backdrops of natural beauty. As a reminder of fuel cells’ environmental advantages, water is everywhere. It falls as snow. It roils in oceans. It floats gently through forests as mist. “For rest,” writes Park Ji-min, one of BTS’s members, in a misguided quest for profundity, “our rest comes from for-rests”.
现代汽车的宣传活动请到了留着拖把头的韩国男子组合防弹少年团(BTS)的成员,在各种自然美景中眼神迷离地凝视着不远处。为了提醒人们燃料电池具有的环保优势,水无处不在。它变为雪飘落,在海洋中翻滚,化作雾轻柔地漂浮在森林中。防弹少年团的一名成员朴智敏故作深沉地写道:“人木为休,我们的休养发展离不开绿野森林。”
The marketing may be silly, but Hyundai is serious. The firm already sells battery-powered vehicles, but it is hedging its low-carbon bets by developing hydrogen ones as well. The advertising campaign is designed to sell the Nexo, the firm’s second fuel-cell car, which was launched last year. And Hyundai is not the only company keeping its options open in this way. On June 5th Toyota, maker of the Prius, the world’s best selling battery-hybrid vehicle, announced a joint venture with several Chinese carmakers to develop fuel-cell technology. An updated version of Toyota’s Mirai, another hydrogen-powered car, is due out later this year.
营销手法或许傻气,但现代汽车很认真。该公司已经在销售电池驱动的汽车,但它的低碳赌注还通过开发氢燃料电池来对冲。此次广告活动是为了推销去年推出的公司第二款燃料电池汽车Nexo。现代并不是唯一一家以这种方式留有后手的公司。6月5日,全球最畅销的混合动力汽车普锐斯(Prius)的制造商丰田汽车宣布与几家中国汽车制造商成立合资公司来开发燃料电池技术。另一款氢动力汽车、丰田的Mirai的升级版将于今年晚些时候发布。
Hydrogen is enjoying a purple patch, then, and not just among carmakers. It is being touted as a means of propelling buses and lorries, and even ships and aircraft. There is talk of it replacing natural gas as a source of heat, of it being used to store the surplus output of solar and wind power stations, of it being employed as a chemical feedstock and even of it replacing coke as a means of extracting metallic iron from its ore. If all this came to pass, then hydrogen would become a dominating factor in human life in the way that hydrocarbons currently are. It would, in other words, usher in a hydrogen economy.
这么看来,氢正走红,而且不仅仅是在轿车制造商中间。它还被吹捧为驱动公交车和卡车,甚至轮船和飞机的手段。有人在谈论用它代替天然气作热源、存储太阳能和风力发电站的剩余产出、用作化学原料,甚至是代替焦炭作为冶铁的手段。如果所有这些都成为现实,那么氢将像今天的碳氢化合物那样,成为人类生活中的主导因素。换句话说,它将带来一个氢经济时代。
This time it’s different. Honest
这次不一样了,真的
Readers of a certain age are now permitted to roll their eyes. At least twice in the past 50 years—in the 1970s, after the oil crisis, and in the 1990s, when climate change started to acquire political salience—there has been excited talk of replacing hydrocarbons with hydrogen. It didn’t happen.
上了点年纪的读者现在可以翻白眼了。在过去50年中,人们兴奋地谈论用氢代替碳氢化合物已经至少有两回了——一次是在1970年代石油危机之后,一次是在1990年代气候变化开始引起政治关注时。然而它并没有发生。
There were several reasons for this. For a start, ripping up and replacing the world’s fossil-fuel infrastructure is a huge job. And even were that an easy thing to accomplish, hydrogen itself has drawbacks. Though better than batteries, it stores less energy in a given volume than fossil fuels can manage (see chart 1). More important, it is not a primary fuel. You have to make it from something else.
这背后有多个原因。首先,拆除和替换世界上的化石燃料基础设施是一项艰巨的工作。就算这件事情容易做,氢本身也有缺点。尽管比电池强,但它在给定体积内存储的能量比化石燃料要少(见图表1)。更重要的是,它不是一次能源。你必须用别的东西来制取它。
This can be done by a chemical reaction called steam reforming but, besides steam, the other ingredient of that process is a hydrocarbon of some sort, which rather defeats the object of the exercise. Or it can be done by the electrolysis of water. This has appropriate green credentials as long as the electricity is either from renewable sources or a nuclear-power plant. But the laws of thermodynamics mean that the energy content of the hydrogen which comes out of the process is less than the electricity that went in. This inbuilt inefficiency raises the question “why not simply power the end-use electrically, rather than using hydrogen as an intermediary?”
这可以通过一种叫做蒸汽重整的化学反应来完成,但除了蒸汽之外,该过程用到的另一种原料是某种碳氢化合物,这就失去了这种做法的意义。或者也可以通过电解水来完成:只要电力是来自可再生能源或核电厂,这种做法就有恰当的绿色证书。但是热力学定律意味着这个过程中产生的氢所含的能量少于输入的电。这种固有的低效率引发了一个问题:“为什么不简单地用电来驱动最终用途就好了,还要用氢作中介?”
To counter these arguments those who believe that things hydrogen-related really are different this time around can point to two things in their favour. Several of the relevant technologies, notably electrolytic equipment, are now at a stage where it is possible to believe they might soon become cheap enough to do the job. And the idea that economies need to be decarbonised fully in order to curb climate change is gathering speed.
要反驳这些论点,那些相信与氢有关的东西这次真的不一样了的人可以指出两件对他们有利的事。一些相关技术,特别是电解设备,目前的发展让人们可以相信它们很快就会便宜到足以胜任这项工作。而且经济需要完全脱碳来遏制气候变化的想法日益升温。
Until 2019, for instance, Britain had planned to cut carbon emissions by 80% from their levels in 1990 by 2050. It then, however, upped the ante to become the first big economic power to commit itself to a 100% cut. This has implications for hydrogen. Electrification using renewable sources such as wind and solar power would probably have got the country to 80%, observes David Joffe, a member of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an organisation that advises Britain’s government on how to bring the transformation about. But full decarbonisation, he says, is a much bigger task, and one for which hydrogen may prove necessary.
例如,英国原本计划到2050年将碳排放量减少为1990年水平的80%。但它在2019年提高目标,成为第一个致力于实现“净零排放”的经济大国。这将影响氢的命运。气候变化委员会(CCC)为英国政府提供关于如何实现这一转变的建议,其成员戴维·乔夫(David Joffe)指出,风能和太阳能等可再生能源带来的电气化或许能让英国做到80%。但他说,完全脱碳的任务要艰巨得多,氢可能会成为必要的手段。
Finding a niche 寻找利基 Despite Hyundai’s and Toyota’s enthusiasm, few analysts believe cars will be part of this process. The CCC calculates that a battery-powered car charged with electricity from a wind turbine converts 86% of the turbine’s output into forward motion on the road. For a fuel-cell car, it is 40-45%. Hydrogen cars also suffer from a chicken-and-egg problem. Unlike the battery-powered variety, they cannot be refuelled at home. Yet roadside refuelling stations for them are scarce, and are likely to remain so while the cars themselves remain rare.
尽管现代和丰田一腔热情,但很少有分析师认为汽车将成为这个过程的一部分。CCC计算得出,如果用风力发电机生成的电来充电,电池车可将发电机输出的86%转换为在道路上的前进运动。燃料电池汽车的这个比例是40%到45%。氢动力汽车还会遇到先有鸡还是先有蛋的问题。与电池车不同,它们不能在家中加气。然而,给它们用的路边加氢站却很稀少,而且只要氢动力汽车很少,这种情况很可能还会持续。
In the meantime battery cars are building a formidable lead. The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises national governments, reckons there were just 11,200 hydrogen-powered cars on the road in 2018, mostly in America and Japan. That compared with 5.1m battery-powered cars. And this number is growing fast. In 2019 sales of new battery-powered cars in China, the world’s biggest automobile market, hit 1.2m—4.7% of the total. In Norway they accounted for more than half of new cars sold. According to the IEA, sales of hydrogen cars around the world in 2018 (the most recent year for which reliable figures are available) were just 4,000.
与此同时,电池车正在建立强大的领先优势。据为各国政府提供建议的国际能源署(以下简称IEA)估计,2018年公路上只有11,200辆氢动力汽车,主要在美国和日本。相比之下,电池车有510万辆,而且这个数字正在快速增长。2019年,在全球最大的汽车市场中国,电池车新车销量达到120万辆,占新车销售总量的4.7%。在挪威,它们占新车销量的一半以上。根据IEA的数据,2018年(可获得可靠数据的最近一年)全球氢动力汽车的销量仅为4000辆。
There is, though, more to transport than private cars. A big problem with batteries is that they have a low energy density—in other words, they have to take up a lot of space if they are to propel a vehicle for any distance. For private cars, which mostly make short journeys, that is manageable. For longer-distance travel, for example by lorries, says Mark Newman, an energy analyst at Bernstein, a bank, hydrogen’s greater energy density becomes more attractive. Hydrogen compressed to 700 atmospheres contains between two and five times more usable energy per litre than a lithium-ion battery. If it is liquefied (which requires more complex technology) that increases further. And since lorries spend most of their time on busy trunk roads, fewer new fuelling stations would be needed.
但是,运输不止是私家车的事。电池的一大问题是它们的能量密度低——换句话说,如果要想把车开上一段距离,电池都必须占用大量空间。私家车大多数时候只做短途驾驶,所以还能对付。伯恩斯坦银行的能源分析师马克·纽曼(Mark Newman)说,对于长途驾驶(如卡车)来说,氢的能量密度更高,因此更具吸引力。压缩到700个大气压的氢气每升体积的可用能量是锂离子电池的两倍至五倍。如果是液化氢(需要更复杂的技术),这个数字还会更大。而且由于卡车大部分时间都在繁忙的主干道上,因此需要的新加氢站将更少。
Exactly where the break-even point lies is still debated. Tesla, a pioneering electric-car maker, thinks that even lorries can usefully be powered by batteries and plans a version that can travel 800km. Hyundai already makes a hydrogen-powered lorry, but its range is only 400km. Several other firms are also investigating fuel cells for lorries. In April, for example, Daimler, a German company, and Volvo, a Swedish one, invested €1.2bn ($1.3bn) in a joint venture to pursue the idea.
盈亏平衡点到底在哪里仍有争议。领先的电动汽车制造商特斯拉认为,即使货车也可以由电池供电,并计划推出能够行驶800公里的版本。现代汽车已经生产过氢动力卡车,但其续航里程仅为400公里。其他几家公司也在研究针对卡车的燃料电池。例如,今年4月,德国公司戴姆勒和瑞典公司沃尔沃投资12亿欧元(13亿美元)成立了一家合资公司来推进这一想法。
Shipping, which accounts for around 2.5% of the world’s industrial greenhouse-gas emissions, is also taking an interest. The International Maritime Organisation, an appendage of the United Nations that regulates the industry, aspires to cut ships’ collective greenhouse-gas emissions to half their levels in 2008 by 2050. How this might be achieved is unclear. Batteries pack far too little energy to power big, ocean-going vessels. Engineers have toyed with everything from nuclear propulsion to high-tech sails. But a study published in March by the International Council on Clean Transportation, an American not-for-profit institution, examined an existing shipping route between China and America and concluded that virtually all the craft plying it could be powered by fuel cells like those used in Hyundai’s cars, albeit with some cargo space removed to make room for the hydrogen itself. Even that could be ameliorated, says Michael Liebreich, an energy consultant, by first reacting the hydrogen with nitrogen to produce ammonia, a chemical that takes up less room than elemental hydrogen, and which can also be used in fuel cells.
航运业占到了全球工业温室气体排放量的约2.5%,也开始对氢产生兴趣。国际海事组织(IMO)是规范该行业的联合国附属机构,希望到2050年将船舶的总温室气体排放量减少到2008年的一半。目前尚不清楚如何实现这一目标。电池储存的能量太少,无法为大型远洋船舶提供动力。从核动力到高科技帆,工程师们什么都试过了。但是,美国非营利机构国际清洁运输委员会3月份发表了一项研究,考察了中美之间一条现有的航运路线,得出的结论是几乎所有往来船只都可以由现代汽车使用的那种燃料电池驱动,只是要损失一些货物空间来为氢本身腾地方。能源顾问迈克尔·利伯里奇(Michael Liebreich)说,甚至这种情况也仍有改善的余地,方法是首先让氢与氮反应生成氨,这种化学品所占的空间比氢单质少,并且也可以用在燃料电池中。
Hot stuff
炙手可热
Hydrogen might replace natural gas for heating, as well. A big advantage here is that it could make use of current infrastructure in the form of pipelines now employed to transport that natural gas. Several countries, including Australia, Britain and Germany, are experimenting with this idea. “We already have a gas grid that should last for at least another 75 years,” says Antony Green, an engineer at National Grid, which runs Britain’s electricity and gas networks. “Why not make use of that if we can?”
氢气也可以代替天然气用于供暖。这方面的一大优势是它可以利用现有的基础设施,也就是目前用于运输天然气的管道。澳大利亚、英国和德国等国家正在测试这种方案。“我们已经有一个燃气网,至少可以再使用75年,”运营英国电力和燃气网络的英国国家电网公司(National Grid)的工程师安东尼·格林(Antony Green)说,“如果可以的话,为什么不利用它呢?”
National Grid reckons the gas-fired boilers which heat most British homes can cope with a mix of 20% hydrogen without modification. And, says Dr Green, boilermakers are beginning to offer “hydrogen-ready” models, which are capable of burning either natural gas or pure hydrogen. Since boilers are replaced every ten to 15 years, he reckons the gas grid could plausibly be ready to switch to hydrogen in a couple of decades’ time. In May a group of German pipeline operators unveiled a plan to build a 1,200km hydrogen grid, based on converted natural-gas pipes, by 2030, at a cost of €660m.
英国国家电网认为,大多数英国家庭采暖所用的燃气锅炉无需改造即可接收20%的氢气。格林说,锅炉制造商已经开始提供“氢气兼容”的型号,能够燃烧天然气或纯氢。由于锅炉每10至15年更换一次,他认为燃气网似乎可以在二三十年内准备好转换成氢气。5月,一批德国管道运营商公布了一项计划,以改造后的天然气管道为基础,到2030年建成全长1200千米的氢气网,耗资6.6亿欧元。
How much environmental good this would truly do is debated. Starting from the position that the only green alternative for heating is electricity powered by renewables, Graham Cooley, the boss of ITM Power, a hydrogen-equipment maker, points out that Britain’s natural-gas grid supplies, every year, around 880TWh of energy to homes, factories and offices, most of which is used for heating. That is more than twice as much energy as the country’s electricity grid carries.
这究竟将对环境产生多少好处尚有争议。有人认为供暖的唯一绿色替代方案是利用可再生能源发电,对此,氢设备制造商ITM Power的老板格雷厄姆·库利(Graham Cooley)指出,英国的天然气网络每年为家庭、工厂和办公室提供约880太瓦时的能源,是该国电网承载能量的两倍以上。其中大部分能源被用于供暖。
A switch to renewably powered electric heating would therefore require a drastic—and expensive—beefing up of the electricity network. Dr Joffe, however, counters that the need to manufacture hydrogen in the first place, with all the inefficiencies this brings, means a hydrogen gas grid would require building even more new power stations than would heating homes or factories with electricity directly.
因此,切换到可再生能源的电采暖系统将需要对电力网络进行彻底且昂贵的改造。然而,乔夫博士反驳说,首先需要制造氢气——而这带来了所有的低效率,这意味着比起直接供电给住宅或工厂用于采暖,建立氢气网需要的新电站甚至更多。
Another suggested role for hydrogen is large-scale energy storage. As wind and solar power spread, matching supply with demand becomes harder. An obvious solution is to store surpluses in good times for use later, when times are bad. And one way to do that might be to make hydrogen and keep it in underground caverns, as currently happens with natural gas. This could increase capacity enormously—perhaps enough to manage not just day-to-day fluctuations but interseasonal ones as well.
人们提出氢的另一个作用是大规模储能。随着风能和太阳能的推广,让需求与供应相匹配变得越来越困难。一个明显的解决方案是在供应充足时把盈余储存起来,以备不时之需。而一种方式可以是制造氢气并将其保存在地下洞穴中,就像目前对天然气所做的那样。这可以极大地增加容量——也许足以应付日常乃至季节性的波动。
On top of these ideas, heavy industry may provide other niches for hydrogen to fill, says Dr Liebreich. Electric heating may struggle to replace natural gas for many industrial processes involving steel, ceramics and glass because it might not be able to reach the required temperatures. And one of the biggest industrial sources of carbon dioxide is not directly energy-related at all.
利伯里奇博士说,除了这些想法之外,重工业还可能为氢气创造其他利基市场。对于许多涉及钢铁、陶瓷和玻璃的工业流程而言,电加热可能难以取代天然气,因为它可能无法达到所需的温度。而且二氧化碳的最大工业来源之一与能源根本没有直接关系。
This is the reduction of iron ore (usually an oxide of iron) to the metal itself by reacting the ore with carbon monoxide made from coke. That produces iron and carbon dioxide. React the ore with hydrogen instead, and the waste product is water. Several firms—including ArcelorMittal, a multinational steelmaker, and a conglomerate of SSAB, a Finnish-Swedish steelmaker, LKAB, a Swedish iron-ore producer, and Vattenfall an energy company, also Swedish—are examining this possibility.
这个来源是通过让铁矿石与由焦炭制成的一氧化碳反应,将矿石(通常是铁的氧化物)还原为金属本身,产生铁和二氧化碳。如果让矿石与氢气反应,产生的废弃物则是水。包括跨国钢铁生产商安赛乐米塔尔、芬兰-瑞典钢铁生产商SSAB集团、瑞典铁矿石生产商LKAB以及瑞典大瀑布电力公司(Vattenfall)在内的多家公司正在研究这种可能性。
Elemental economics 元素经济学 All of this does, however, depend on an ability to make hydrogen at scale in a way that does not release CO2 into the atmosphere. And that is tricky.
但是,所有这些都取决于大规模生产氢而又不将二氧化碳释放到大气中的能力。这很棘手。 At the moment, virtually all of the roughly 70m tonnes of hydrogen produced each year is a result of steam reforming. This emits seven tonnes of carbon dioxide for every tonne of hydrogen yielded. For this reason steam-reformed hydrogen is known to environmentalists as grey hydrogen. Its cost varies according to local circumstances, but averages, according to the IEA, around $1.50 a kilogram.
目前,每年生产的大约7000万吨的氢气差不多都是蒸汽重整的产物。每产生一吨氢气,就会排放七吨二氧化碳。因此,环保主义者将蒸汽重整出的氢气称为灰色氢气。它的成本因当地情况而异,但据IEA估计,平均成本约为每千克1.50美元。
“Blue” hydrogen, though still the result of steam reforming, is somewhat cleaner than the grey variety. Instead of the CO2 being dumped into the air it is captured and buried underground—so-called carbon capture and storage. This is starting to happen. On July 1st, for example, Equinor, a Norwegian energy firm, said it would build one of the world’s biggest blue-hydrogen plants at a site in northern England. More ambitiously, Japan hopes that blue hydrogen might power its future. It envisages creating the gas from lignite deposits in Australia, burying the carbon dioxide locally, and then shipping the hydrogen across the Pacific in tankers akin to those that now carry liquefied natural gas.
“蓝色”氢气尽管仍然是蒸汽重整的结果,但比灰色氢气清洁一些。与其将二氧化碳排放到空气中,不如将其捕获并埋在地下,即所谓的碳捕获和存储。这种方法已经开始启用。例如,7月1日,挪威国家石油公司(Equinor)表示,它将在英格兰北部的一个地点建造世界上最大的蓝氢工厂之一。日本更加雄心勃勃,希望蓝氢能为其未来提供动力。它设想从澳大利亚的褐煤矿床中开采出天然气,将二氧化碳埋在当地,然后用类似于现在运送液化天然气的油轮把氢运过太平洋。
The extra equipment needed to capture the carbon dioxide produced by reforming necessarily pushes up the price of blue hydrogen. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) a firm of clean-energy analysts, reckons its current cost ranges from $1.50 to $3.50 a kilogram, depending on which fossil fuel is used to produce it (see chart 2). Moreover, the process of capturing CO2 is imperfect, so some of that gas escapes. The real desideratum, therefore, is “green”, electrolytic hydrogen. At $2.50 to $5 or more a kilogram, however, green hydrogen is currently even pricier than the blue sort.
捕获重整产生的二氧化碳所需的额外设备必然会推高蓝氢的价格。据清洁能源分析公司彭博新能源财经(BNEF)估计,其当前成本范围为每千克1.50至3.50美元,具体取决于使用哪种化石燃料生产(见图2)。此外,捕获二氧化碳的过程并不完美,因此其中一些气体会逸出。因此,人们真正向往的是“绿色”的电解氢。但绿氢目前比蓝氢更贵,价格为每千克2.50至5美元或更高。
This could all change, though, as the technologies involved in making both blue and green hydrogen are scaled up. Prediction is a mug’s game, but BNEF has had a go anyway. Its analysts reckon green hydrogen might, by 2050, cost between 70 cents and $1.6 a kilogram—in other words the current price of the grey variety. As Kobad Bhavnagri, the firm’s head of special projects, explains, “The cost of electrolysis equipment has fallen by around 40% in the last five years in the West.” Dr Bhavnagri reckons the kit can now be had in Western countries for around $1,200 per kilowatt of capacity and that there may be scope for those numbers to fall much further. “The cost in the Chinese market is drastically lower—around $200 per kW,” he says, which will presumably bring the price down everywhere soon. UBS, a bank, cites a deal recently struck by Nikola, an American firm that says it is planning to make hydrogen lorries, which implies electrolyser costs of just $350 per kW.
不过,随着制造蓝氢和绿氢的技术规模不断扩大,这一切都可能改变。预测是一个必输的游戏,但是BNEF还是要一试。它的分析师认为,到2050年,绿氢的成本可能在每千克70美分至1.6美元之间,也就是灰氢目前的价格。正如该公司特殊项目负责人科巴德·巴夫纳格里(Kobad Bhavnagri)所说:“在过去五年中,西方国家电解设备的成本下降了约40%。” 巴夫纳格里博士认为,现在在西方国家可以以每千瓦容量1200美元左右的价格买到这套设备,而且这个数字还可能大幅下降。他说,“中国市场的成本要低得多,大约为每千瓦200美元”,这应该很快会把全球的价格拉低。瑞银(UBS)援引美国公司尼古拉(Nikola)最近达成的一项交易,该公司表示正计划生产氢能卡车,这意味着电解槽的成本仅为每千瓦350美元。
Operating costs, meanwhile, can ride on one of the most striking and reliable trends in the energy industry—the relentless fall in the price of solar and wind power (see chart 3). The cost of solar in particular has fallen by 85% in the past decade. Renewables are now cheaper in some parts of the world than energy from fossil fuels, and the process shows no sign of slowing.
同时,运营成本可能会借助能源行业最引人注目的趋势之一,即太阳能和风能价格持续下跌(见图3)。特别是在过去十年中,太阳能成本下降了85%。现在,世界上某些地区的可再生能源比化石燃料能源还要便宜,而且这一过程没有放缓的迹象。 
It’s a gas
一种燃气
The economics, then, seem to be pointing in the right direction for hydrogen to become, if not dominant, then at least an important part of the mix. The Hydrogen Council, a lobby group based in Brussels, thinks the gas could be satisfying 18% of the world’s energy demand by 2050. The share prices of firms that make fuel cells, electrolysis equipment and the like have consequently been marching upward.
因此,经济学似乎支撑了氢的前景——即使不成为主导,它也至少会成为重要的组成部分。总部位于布鲁塞尔的游说组织氢能委员会(Hydrogen Council)认为,到2050年,氢气可以满足世界18%的能源需求。因此,制造燃料电池和电解设备等产品的公司的股价一直在上涨。
Many of the assumptions made in various forecasts rely, however, on governments providing prodigious subsidies to develop the technology. BNEF says subsidies of around $150bn over the next ten years might be needed to make hydrogen competitive. In reality, the IEA reckons that total government spending on hydrogen in 2018 was just $724m.
但是,各种预测中做出的许多假设都依赖于政府提供巨大补贴来开发这项技术。BNEF表示,未来10年可能需要约1500亿美元的补贴以提高氢的竞争力。实际上,据IEA估计,2018年政府在氢能方面的总支出仅为7.24亿美元。
Official interest is certainly picking up, though. On June 10th Germany announced a €7bn subsidy programme aimed at making it the “world leader” in the technology. A leaked draft of the European Union’s post-covid stimulus plan contains an ambition to install 40GW of green hydrogen capacity by 2030. China’s government hopes to see 1m fuel-cell-powered vehicles on the roads by the same year. Japan, long a fan of hydrogen, wants its price to fall by 90% by 2050. As to retooling vast swathes of the global energy system to accommodate this change, Dr Bhavnagri calculates that replacing natural gas with hydrogen would mean tripling or quadrupling the world’s gas-storage infrastructure, at a cost of perhaps $600bn.
不过,官方的兴趣肯定在增加。6月10日,德国宣布了一项70亿欧元的补贴计划,旨在使其成为该技术的“世界领导者”。欧盟泄露的一份新冠后刺激计划草案里有宏伟的目标:到2030年安装40吉瓦绿色氢能。中国政府希望到同一年道路上会有100万辆燃料电池驱动的车辆。长期以来一直拥护氢能的日本希望其价格到2050年下降90%。要适应这一变化将需要大规模改造全球能源系统,巴夫纳格里博士计算指出,用氢替代天然气将意味着世界氢气存储设施要增长三到四倍,耗资约6000亿美元。
In the end, hydrogen’s impact will be limited by the basic fact that it is, ultimately, just electricity in disguise. It remains an inescapably inefficient option. For some applications, though, its advantages—its energy density, its ability to burn and its compatibility with existing infrastructure—could make it an attractive fit despite that drawback. To paraphrase another famous advert, then, the hope is that hydrogen might prove to be the Heineken of clean energy: able to refresh the parts of an economy that electrification cannot reach.
到头来,氢的影响将受到一个基本事实的限制——氢说到底只是变相的电。它仍然无可避免地是一个低效的选择。但是,对于某些应用而言,尽管有此缺点,但它的优点——能量密度、燃烧能力以及与现有基础设施的兼容性——使其仍然很有吸引力。因此,套用另一句著名的广告词来说,人们希望氢会成为清洁能源中的喜力啤酒:给电气化无法触及的经济部分带来清爽的感觉。