An interesting post on Megan McArdle’s blog this morning, mentioning that there are certain factors limiting the progress of the electric car at this point, and that hydrogen generated from water using solar power may be a better option and closer than we think:

Hydrogen looks more promising in many ways. On the other hand, finding a way to make the stuff cheaply out of clean energy is necessary, but not sufficient, to solve our problems. You also have to build a distribution network, and make it so the highly pressurized hydrogen doesn’t set your car on fire. This is a massive task. Think how long it took from the emergence of the internal combustion engine in the 1890s, to being reasonably certain of finding a gas station wherever you happened to be driving: decades, even as automobile use exploded.

And in the meantime, gasoline isn’t going away. There’s plenty of oil to drill for the foreseeable future if the government would get out of our way, and as costs continue a slow rise, there’s plenty of incentive to build a hydrogen-based economy that will continue the job oil did before.

For details on how sunlight and water can produce fuel, click here.