The potential European hydrogen economy
The EU’s decarbonization strategy envisages a strong role of hydrogen in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions towards zero until 2050. This research project – a collaboration of MIT, PIK and PSI’s Technology Assessment group – will analyze the future role of hydrogen within the EU. Each partner will contribute with its core expertise: PSI with its advanced Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods and tools for the evaluation of the environmental performance; MIT with its know-how in techno-economic assessment as well as LCA; and PIK with its integrated assessment model REMIND for scenario analysis. Combining this expertise and building upon previous research will allow for properly addressing the complexity of a future hydrogen economy and contribute to the identification of preferred areas of application for hydrogen, the quantification of transformation costs, and environmental benefits, but also potential adverse side-effects. The scope of the analysis will include hydrogen production, storage and transportation as well as end-use in various sectors. All potential feedstock options and conversion technologies for low-carbon hydrogen supply – electricity, biomass, and natural gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS) – will be investigated. Furthermore, a portfolio of hydrogen storage and transport options will be considered to identify optimal technologies for different time-scales and transport distances. And finally, end-use sectors will be addressed to investigate whether hydrogen should best be used for heating, road transport, shipping, in industry, or aviation. One of the key questions to be answered is how to design a dedicated hydrogen infrastructure, which is flexible enough to be rolled out step-by-step and does not pose a lock-in risk, but at the same time cost-efficient.