Hydrogen has been gaining attention as a promising alternative fuel for the mobility and transport sectors, as it has the potential to significantly reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency. The use of hydrogen in the mobility and transport sectors can offer a number of opportunities, including reducing dependence on fossil fuels, improving air quality, and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy.
I’d like to explore some of the opportunities of using hydrogen in the mobility and transport sectors, with specific examples and case studies from the United States, Norway, and France.
One of the main opportunities of using hydrogen in the mobility and transport sectors is the potential to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Hydrogen is a clean-burning fuel that produces only water vapor when used in a fuel cell, making it an attractive alternative to gasoline and diesel. This is particularly important for the transportation sector, which is responsible for a significant portion of global greenhouse gas emissions. By using hydrogen as a fuel, the transportation sector can reduce its emissions and contribute to the fight against climate change.
Another opportunity of using hydrogen in the mobility and transport sectors is the potential to improve air quality. Hydrogen fuel cells produce zero emissions, which means they do not contribute to air pollution. This is particularly important in urban areas, where air pollution is a major health concern. By using hydrogen-powered vehicles, cities can reduce air pollution and improve the health of their residents.
The energy efficiency of hydrogen production should, however, be taken into consideration before its use cases, notably in the transport sector. The energy efficiency of hydrogen production for use in transport depends on the method used to produce the hydrogen. There are several ways to produce hydrogen, each with its own energy efficiency.
One of the most common ways to produce hydrogen is through the process of steam methane reforming (SMR), which involves reacting methane (natural gas) with steam to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This process has an energy efficiency of around 70–80%, meaning that around 70–80% of the energy in the methane is converted into hydrogen. However, this process also produces carbon dioxide as a byproduct, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Another method for hydrogen production is electrolysis, which uses electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The energy efficiency of electrolysis depends on the source of the electricity used. When using electricity from renewable sources such as wind or solar power, the energy efficiency can be as high as 85%. However, when using electricity from fossil fuels, the overall energy efficiency is lower.
A third method of hydrogen production is called bioelectrolysis, which involves using microorganisms to convert organic matter into hydrogen, which is a more sustainable way of production, since it reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
A fourth method is called thermo-chemical hydrogen production, which involves heating a mixture of water and a metal hydride to produce hydrogen. This method is less energy efficient than electrolysis and typically has an energy efficiency of around 50%. It’s worth noting that the overall energy efficiency also depends on the efficiency of the hydrogen storage, transportation and dispensing systems, as well as the energy needed for the infrastructure of the hydrogen production plant.
A concrete example of the use of hydrogen in the mobility sector in the United States is the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell buses in California.
The State of California has been a leader in the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell buses. As of 2020, there are around 40 hydrogen fuel cell buses operating in the state, with plans to increase the number to over 100 by 2025. These buses emit only water vapor and heat, and they run on hydrogen fuel cells, which convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity to power the bus. This reduces the emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, and also provides a cleaner and quieter mode of transportation.
In Norway, the use of hydrogen in the mobility and transport sectors is also gaining momentum.
The Norwegian government has launched the “Hydrogen Roadmap” which aims to establish a hydrogen infrastructure and promote the use of hydrogen as a transportation fuel. The roadmap includes several measures to support the development and use of hydrogen fuel, such as: investing in the development of hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure, providing financial incentives for the use of hydrogen fuel in the transportation sector and promoting the use of hydrogen fuel in the public transportation sector. In 2020, the use of hydrogen in the transportation sector reached 1% of the total fuel consumption, and the government aims to reach 5% by 2030.
France is also actively working on the development of hydrogen as a fuel for the transportation sector. The French government has set a target of having 100,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road by 2028, and it has announced several measures to support the development and use of hydrogen fuel.
For example, the government has announced plans to invest €7 billion in hydrogen infrastructure and research and development, and it has also established a €300 million fund to support the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell buses. Additionally, the French government has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector by 37% by 2030.
In conclusion, hydrogen has the potential to significantly reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency in the mobility and transport sectors. The use of hydrogen in the mobility and transport sectors can offer a number of opportunities, including reducing dependence on fossil fuels, improving air quality, and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy. The examples and case studies from the United States, Norway, and France illustrate the potential of hydrogen as a fuel for the transportation sector, and how governments and private companies