Prospects for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to decarbonize road transport

Üçok, Mehmet Doğan (2023) Prospects for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to decarbonize road transport. Discover Sustainability, 4 (1). ISSN 2662-9984

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This paper explores the role of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (HFCVs) in helping to meet global climate goals of limiting long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1.5 °C. Employing the GREET Model and data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the study comprehensively compares the full fuel-cycle emission profiles of HFCVs and battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The paper conducts an in-depth examination of the interplay between the carbon intensity of the electric grid and the resulting GHG emissions within the context of refueling HFCV vehicles via electrolyzers, and the analysis draws a comparison to BEVs charged using the same electric grid. The study finds that while emissions for BEVs increase, emissions for HFCVs are significantly larger when HFCVs are refueled from retail outlets producing hydrogen via electrolysis from grid electricity—a finding that was not previously reached in the current literature. The research underscores that countries operating electric grids characterized by high GHG emissions or lacking robust pathways to emission reduction would face suboptimal outcomes by adopting HFCVs powered by hydrogen sourced from distributed grid electricity generation. The gCO2e/mi for BEVs and HFCVs are also calculated when the electricity is produced from renewable energy resources. When electricity is derived from renewable energy sources, it becomes evident that the gCO2e/mi for both HFCVs and BEVs converge towards ‘zero’. The emission metric of gCO2e/mile for a HFCV refueled with the hydrogen produced from natural gas via steam methane reforming (SMR) without carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), stands at 105 gCO2e/mile, whereas in the absence of CCUS, it escalates notably to 247 gCO2e/mile, an approximate 150% increase in stark contrast to CCUS inclusion. This quantitative portrayal serves to underscore the substantial potential for curtailing carbon footprints achievable through the integration of CCUS, thereby amplifying its significance within the realm of hydrogen-based transportation and the broader purview of climate change mitigation endeavors. In order to provide a comprehensive perspective, the study delves into the examination of hydrogen production pathways and associated costs for the years 2021, 2030, and 2050. The forecasted supply costs are elucidated, particularly in relation to the potential hydrogen supply originating from variable renewable energy (solar PV and wind) sources and from CCUS-equipped hydrogen production facilities (considering the project pipeline of projects upto 2030). These factors are of substantial importance in shaping the hydrogen supply landscape and subsequently influencing the adoption of HFCVs in the market. The study also examines the cost implications of hydrogen delivery for varying transportation distances (for 2030), acknowledging their important role in the broader context. The challenges posed by the integration of variable renewable energy sources are also addressed, along with the imperative for effective energy storage solutions. This discourse unfolds within the overarching framework of the energy transition, prominently characterized by the ascendancy of solar PV and wind energy. The intricate interplay of these aspects assumes a critical role in shaping the trajectory of future hydrogen supply dynamics over the medium and long term.
Item Type: Article
Divisions: Istanbul International Center for Energy and Climate
Depositing User: Mehmet Doğan Üçok
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2024 13:21
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2024 13:21

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