A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) examining the potential of hydrogen in the global energy mix stresses its usefulness as an energy carrier that allows for low-carbon energy to be stored, including in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The report estimates that a 25% share of FCEVs in global road transport by 2050 can contribute up to 10% of the cumulative transport carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reductions required for moving from a 6°C average global temperature rise scenario (an extension of current trends) to a 2°C scenario.
The report, titled ‘Technology Roadmap: Hydrogen and Fuel Cells,’ highlights that “hydrogen holds promise for some of the key challenges facing emissions reduction in sectors such as transport, industry and buildings, as well as the electricity system.” According to the IEA, by acting as a flexible energy carrier, hydrogen can also expand off-grid access to low-emission energy services.
The study notes that, despite environmental and energy security benefits of hydrogen and fuel cells in end-use applications, the development of hydrogen generation, transmission and distribution (T&D), and retail infrastructures remains challenging.
The IEA report outlines steps for governments, industry and researchers to support the deployment of hydrogen technology. It presents: a case for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies; a technology status overview; a deployment vision through 2050; and actions and milestones for technology development, and for policy, regulatory frameworks and finance.
For the next decade, the IEA recommends several key actions to support hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, including: stable policy and regulatory frameworks; stimulating investment and early market deployment; strengthening and harmonizing international standards; and increasing the number of hydrogen-based energy storage systems suitable for integrating variable renewable energy. The agency also calls for “putting the first tens of thousands of vehicles on the road, along with hydrogen generation, T&D and refuelling infrastructure, including at least 500 to 1,000 stations in suitable regions around the world.”
The hydrogen report was prepared with support from industry, academia and government stakeholders. The preparation process included three regional expert workshops that examined region-specific opportunities for, and barriers to, hydrogen technology deployment.
For IISD’s publication, please view here