The Role of Hydrogen

Hydrogen Fuel Cell at 2014 NY International Auto Show – Flickr

Hydrogen’s potential as an emission-free fuel for transportation, power generation, and industrial purposes is nothing new; however, interest in the technology has increased in recent years. Some energy professionals say hydrogen will finally have its moment, driven by the trend towards cleaner hydrogen production, the need for additional tools to address climate challenges, and hydrogen’s potential in hard-to-decarbonize sectors. On March 24, OurEnergyPolicy hosted a panel discussion examining the role of hydrogen in the energy sector. 

The webinar covered the production and uses of hydrogen, current economics, and policies needed to support the continued growth of the industry. In discussing production, panelists addressed the hydrogen color classification system, noting that it is not always the best measure of environmental impact, and even hydrogen produced from fossil fuels can have a better environmental impact than burning fossil fuels directly (see more in our Twitter thread). In addition to electricity production, hydrogen can replicate the experience of driving a gasoline or diesel-fueled vehicle in terms of range and time to refuel. It also has significant energy storage potential and can be transported using existing infrastructure with some modifications. 

In terms of economics, panelists discussed hydrogen’s status as a mature industry as well as the difference between the various production methods. Hydrogen is currently produced at roughly $1–$7/kg, depending on the method, and will continue to see price reductions for various types of production, especially green hydrogen, as the industry addresses challenges of scale. In addition to process improvements, the industry could be further helped by stable policies, such as tax credits for hydrogen vehicles and infrastructure, and ensuring that projects are technology-agnostic with respect to achieving the goal of reducing emissions.

OurEnergyPolicy’s 3/24/21 Webinar – The Role of Hydrogen