The EU HyWays project has released its main report "European Hydrogen Energy Roadmap" The "Roadmap" analyzes the potential impacts on the EU economy, society and environment of the large-scale introduction of hydrogen in the short- and long- term (up to 2050). A few excerpts from the press release announcing the report follow:
The scientific project HyWays funded by the EU's research program has found that introducing hydrogen into the energy system would reduce the total oil consumption by the road transport sector by 40% between now and 2050. Substantial barriers have first to be overcome, ranging from economic and technological to institutional barriers, and actions must be taken as soon as possible. Following a series of more than 50 workshops the project has produced a Roadmap to analyze the potential impacts on the EU economy, society and environment of the large-scale introduction of hydrogen in the short- and long- term, as well as an action plan detailing what needs to be done for this to take place. The report is published as the Member States are due to give their approval of a new €940m public/private research partnership for the development of hydrogen and fuel cells.
The extensive and high-quality simulations of the project predict that the break-even point would be most likely reached between 2025 and 2035. The HyWays Roadmap estimates that in 2030 there will be 16 million hydrogen cars and the total cumulative investment for infrastructure build-up will amount to €60 billion.
I am still not a convert to the hydrogen economy, especially for use in transport vehicles. I believe that economical plug-in vehicles and electric vehicles can be produced at less cost before the 2025-2035 time period that is cited and by 2050 should be able to reduce oil consumption by significantly more than 40% with biofuels providing a significant reduction in fuel consumption of light vehicles, which is not an option with fuel cells. The development of a low cost fuel cell for transportation is a major technical challenge in itself, let alone the infrastructure required to distribute the hydrogen. I admit that good progress is being made on these items, but why should we have two major projects going when it is clear that one can be economically developed in a shorter time. The EU certainly can proceed independent of the U.S. and Japan, but it seems such a waste to do so. Hydrogen from natural gas or by electrolysis seem to me to be a waste of fossil fuels and/or inefficient use of electricity. Hydrogen may have a place in power production and other large stand-alone projects where a hydrogen transportation infrastructure does not have to be developed. This should be the first area that is developed.