ECN publication
Snapshots of hydrogen uptake in the future
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 12-6-2008
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-E--07-056 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
69 Download PDF  

This research addresses scenario, roadmap and pathways studies and R&D plans envisaging hydrogen as a future energy carrier. By comparing the results of the various hydrogen studies an overview of possible hydrogen chains can be given. These snapshots and developments of hydrogen uptake and hydrogen chains in time (2010-2050), describe the common foreseen hydrogen technologies in the future. The study reviews the IEA energy technology analysis called ‘Prospects for hydrogen and fuel cells’, the ‘World Energy Technology Outlook 2050: WETO-H2’, the results of Phase I of the European roadmap project HyWays (‘Assumptions, visions and robust conclusions from project Phase I’), the United States Department of Energy’s ‘National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap’ and ‘Hydrogen posture plan’, the Hydrogen and fuel cell technology platforms (HFP) ‘Deployment Strategy’, ‘Strategic Research Agenda’ and ‘Implementation Plan’ and Japan’s ‘Strategic Technology Roadmap (Energy Sector)’. All reviewed studies (except the R&D plans) foresee the main application - 75% or more - of hydrogen is in the transport sector. In the transport sector almost all hydrogen will be used by fuel cell vehicles. Hydrogen internal combustion engine cars will have a bigger share in the starting years, but eventually the share becomes limited. By 2050 between 30% and 75% of the passenger car vehicles will be hydrogen fuelled vehicles. Stationary use of FCs is foreseen in CHP applications, but these are mainly run on syngas and/or natural gas instead of hydrogen. The analysis shows hydrogen does not enter the energy mix unless there is a stringent climate policy, the oil and gas prices are high, and there is adequate progress in technological learning. Most studies indicate that hydrogen introduction into the energy mix starts with the use of by-product hydrogen. In the short term dedicated hydrogen production starts with decentralised production of hydrogen. This will either be done by reforming of natural gas (steam methane reforming, SMR), by electrolysis of water, or a combination of both. After 2020 production of hydrogen will become more centralised, but will still strongly depend on fossil fuels, mostly natural gas. Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is mentioned by most studies as a viable option to reduce CO2 emissions by that time. From 2030 and beyond, the production still largely depends on fossil fuels, but renewable energy use for hydrogen production is envisaged and increasing by that time in most studies. Wind electricity combined with electrolysis and biomass gasification with CCS are the most mentioned options for renewable hydrogen production. The outline for 2050 differs strongly between studies. The IEA indicates 80% of the hydrogen will be produced centralised by steam reforming of natural gas and coal gasification, both with CCS. On the other hand, the hydrogen scenario in the WETO-H2 study forecasts a share of about 50% for renewables, especially biomass gasification, and about 40% of nuclear energy for electrolysis. The total hydrogen demand in Europe in 2050 will vary between 2.1 and 5.3 EJ/yr.

Back to List