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What does the ‘Roadmap to a US hydrogen economy’ mean for the energy industry?

Posted on 27/10/2020

At present the US boasts more than half of the world’s fuel cell vehicles, proving that it is undoubtedly already immersed in the world of hydrogen. Home to 25,000 fuel cell material handling vehicles, more than 8,000 small-scale fuel systems across 40 states and more than 550 MW or large-scale cell power installed or planned, the Roadmap to a US Hydrogen Economy outlines how the US can harness and expand its global energy leadership.

There’s still a way to go, but it’s thought that if definitive actions are taken now, a competitive hydrogen industry could meet 14% of all US energy demand by 2050. In working to meet this target, a lower-carbon energy mix could be achieved, the US could reinforce its energy leadership, strengthen its economy by generating $140bn each year in revenue and also create 700,000 jobs by 2030. Looking further ahead, it’s expected that the Road Map could generate $750bn per year and create 3.4 million jobs by 2050.

The roadmap highlights five major sectors of the economy where hydrogen can play a part in the proposed transition;

  • Transportation
  • Power generation and grid balancing
  • Fuel for industry
  • Feed stock
  • Fuel for residential and commercial buildings

The US must raise its game to remain dominant

In order to meet future energy challenges and remain dormant, the US will need to up its game – further investments and public policies which reduce regulatory barriers, promote research development and deployment, and reward innovation are needed.

The beginning of the month saw the virtual media launch of the roadmap, where industry experts highlighted the roles they hope to fulfil in fast-forwarding a hydrogen future for North America. It’s worth noting here that not only does this roadmap hold potential for a US economic boost, but it could also lead to dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases.

From this proposed hydrogen use, there would likely be a 16% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 36% reduction in nitrogen oxides by 2050. But none of this can happen without action, and that’s the main purpose of the new roadmap.

Plug Power looks to play a part in decarbonisation efforts

Plug Power has deployed over 40,000 fuel cells, does about 27,000 fuellings a day and uses over 27 tonnes of hydrogen a day, in addition to having already built over 100 hydrogen stations for customers like Amazon and Walmart.

Plug Power believes that the fuel cell world is now, and is ready to play a key role in US decarbonisation efforts.

Toyota has been working on fuel cell electric vehicles for over 25 years

While the US currently deploys the largest number of fuel cell electric vehicles, further uptake is needed – and Toyota is one of the key players leading the way in this sector. As part of the organisations ‘Environmental Challenge 2050’, Toyota aims to reduce the overall CO2 emissions associated with its fleet by 90% by 2050, when compared with levels from 2010.

Production capacity has increased at Toyota factories by tenfold, and the plan is to produce many more fuel cell stacks – ultimately opening the door to all types of new opportunities.

Industrial gas giant Air Liquide has committed to playing a part

Founding member of the Hydrogen Council and industrial gas giant, Air Liquide, has vowed to play a part in the road map. The gas giant already produces over 14 billion cubic meters per year – the equivalent of supplying over 10 million fuel cell vehicles. Furthermore, Air Liquide is working to develop technologies that will advance a number of hydrogen-related industries such as the mobility market.

And similar to Toyota, Air Liquide has set its own targets, in addition to meeting those set out in the road map; the organisation is working to reduce its carbon intensity by 30%, by 2025.

The roll out and announcement of the ‘roadmap to a US hydrogen economy’ is a huge step forward when it comes to boosting the US economy, positioning the country as a major player, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s certainly a project that we’ll be keeping a close eye on.

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