Hydrogen has been hailed as a silver bullet for meeting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2050. The Hy-Pat project tests this assertion by looking at projected demand for hydrogen (H2) worldwide, in the EU and China up until 2050, and examining various demand sectors, including transportation, industry and the built environment.
The meta-study, coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI), with input from the German Energy Agency (dena), the Ruhr University Bochum, and five other German institutes, explores 40 energy system and H2 scenarios where there’s an emphasis on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
It signals a significant increase in the global demand for H2, especially in regions where a high bar is set for emissions reduction. By 2050, demand for the gas is projected to represent between 4-11 percent of total global energy demand. Yet regional differences are marked: in the EU, the share could be as much as 14 percent, while in China, H2 will only make up four percent of the country’s energy quota.
The relevance of H2 in the energy mix also varies depending on the application. Highest demand will be in the transport sector – the study calculates an average H2 share of 28 percent for mobility in the EU by 2050 – but only 14 percent in China and 16 percent globally. Questions remain over H2-powered passenger cars and trucks, although synthesis products are likely to be used in aviation and shipping.
In industry, Europe will again see the highest demand (up to 38 percent), with China lagging behind (seven percent max), and worldwide demand at 2-9 percent, by 2050. In the built environment, the role of H2 is predicted to be minimal, representing less than two percent of energy systems in 2050.
“Hydrogen will play an important role in future global climate policy – but will not be the dominant final energy carrier of the future,” summarises the project’s coordinator Professor Martin Wietschel in an ISI . For emissions reduction targets to be reached, he says, energy saving measures and electricity and heat from renewables will be the main drivers.