Transportation and Climate Change: The Potential for Hydrogen Systems 2004-01-0700
New technologies are being developed to serve the growing energy needs of the transportation sector without the environmental impacts observed with conventional technologies. In a world where emissions of carbon are severely constrained, hydrogen-powered vehicles (using fuel cells, internal combustion engines, or other) may be the best alternative for meeting societal needs. Programs to develop these technologies have emerged as high priorities for the automotive and energy industries, as well as governments worldwide. There are a number of challenges that must be faced, however, before we can effectively transition the current fossil fuel based system to a future hydrogen (H2) based system for the mobility industry. Full conversion of the existing transportation system will require concurrent availability of appropriate fuel sources and related infrastructure at acceptable costs and with a clear understanding of their environmental implications.
This paper provides a framework for evaluating the challenges and potential pathways for the transition from our current petroleum-based energy sources for transportation systems to a future hydrogen-based system. A preliminary evaluation of the implications of moving to a hydrogen-based transportation system was conducted using the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's (PNNL) integrated assessment model that evaluates the economic and environmental implications of various technology options. Future research activities will focus on alternative development pathways that consider infrastructure requirements and impacts as well as sequential, complementary and competitive technology development interactions.