Markets - 28/November/2018

Hydrogen makes its case as a niche clean transport option

Trucks and ships could be two means of transport running on hydrogen gas, produced using electricity, in the coming years

Recent months have seen more pro-hydrogen gas activity than seen for several years. Reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency highlight the potential role of hydrogen in the energy transition, while EU member states have called for heightened political support for the technology and the first international Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting was held in Tokyo, Japan in October 2018. Transport is regularly cited as one sector where the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier could help cut emissions, but there is still a long road ahead before the technology is ready to be scaled up and hydrogen-powered vehicles become a common means of transportation.  

Transport was responsible for 25% of total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fuel combustion worldwide in 2016, reports the IEA. Global oil demand rose by 1.5 million barrels a day in 2017, with the transport sector cited as one of the main drivers of that growth. Even in regions where CO2 emissions from other sectors are generally falling, emissions from transport have continued to rise. In Europe between 1990 and 2012, total greenhouse gas emissions decreased by almost 18%, but those from transport increased by about 14%. Road transport accounts for 72.9% of transport emissions in Europe.

At least some of the noise around hydrogen can be attributed to the Hydrogen Council, a high-powered lobby association launched in 2017, whose membership has grown rapidly and includes heavy hitters such as Électricité de France (EDF), General Motors, Hyundai, Shell, Toyota and Total. The council has big ambitions in transport: it sees the potential for hydrogen to power at least ten million cars and 500,000 trucks worldwide by 2030. Only around 10,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are being driven today, about half of which are in California and most of the rest in Japan. ...

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