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The role of hydrogen and fuel cells in the global energy system

Hydrogen can also be produced from renewable sources, using biogas, a gaseous form of methane obtained from biomass, or through electrolysis using electricity generated by renewable sources. Biogas or Biomethane, or Natural Gas go through a thermochemical conversion called steam methane reform SMR which produces a reaction with steam and forms a synthetic gas that consists predominantly of hydrogen.

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Natural gas, solar or wind as a primary energy source can be used to produce electricity, which then is used in a process called electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen can be used to power a number of different types of transportation. It can be stored and transported at high energy density in liquid or gaseous form, and it can be used as a fuel for power or in transport, and in industry as feedstock. Just like battery-electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles FCEVs , including passenger cars and buses, are powered by electricity and so produce no carbon dioxide CO2 or other harmful emissions from their tailpipe — only water vapour.

In these vehicles, energy is stored in the form compressed hydrogen fuel, rather than in a battery. The hydrogen fuel-cells convert compressed hydrogen from their fuel tanks into electricity that powers the electric motor in the vehicle, providing a similar range to vehicles powered by internal combustion engines using gasoline or diesel. Hydrogen-powered cars also have the advantage of being able to cover long distances, and only take a few minutes to refuel at a retail site. Collaboration between vehicle manufacturers, energy companies and government is vital for progressing the infrastructure to make any emerging fuel a viable alternative.

Hydrogen is no exception. In Germany, we are part of a joint venture called H2 Mobility with industrial gas manufacturers, Air Liquide and Linde', car manufacturer, Daimler, and energy companies, Total and OMV, to develop a nationwide network of hydrogen refuelling stations. In the USA, Shell has four hydrogen filling stations in California and is currently working in partnership with Toyota, with the support of the State of California, to further develop its hydrogen refuelling network.

We are also developing hydrogen stations in the UK, in the Netherlands, and in Canada. In Shell became the first branded fuel retailer to sell hydrogen at one of its retail sites in the UK. The hydrogen refuelling stations in Cobham and Beaconsfield, in partnership with ITM, use hydrogen produced on site using electricity from renewable sources.

It can. The high energy density of hydrogen makes it particularly suitable for trucks, trains and potentially ships, which carry heavy goods over long distances.


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Since , Shell has been part of a Californian consortium to develop three new large-capacity refuelling stations for heavy-duty hydrogen fuel-cell trucks being developed by Toyota and Kenworth Truck Company. One of these stations will use hydrogen made from biogas, which is natural gas made from renewable sources. These stations will form the first hydrogen truck refuelling network in California, and will help to reduce emissions along a heavily-polluted road that connects the Port of Los Angeles and a major warehouse complex inland.

For a Carbon-Free Future, Renewable Gas May Be Key

In , Shell published a study on the future of hydrogen in the transport sector, jointly produced with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. The study concludes that in , million fuel cell electric vehicles FCEVs could save up to 68 million tonnes of fuel and almost million tonnes of carbon emissions, making a significant contribution to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector.

It is the most abundant element in the universe. When produced using renewable energy, it creates no greenhouse gas emissions.

So why aren't we hearing more about hydrogen? Our activities focus on two core areas. The first is electricity: generating, buying and selling it and supplying it directly to our customers. The second is new fuels for transport such as hydrogen and biofuels. Find out more about our activities. The rest of the country follows the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which instead require automakers to reduce the average emissions from the new vehicles they sell.

Seriously trying to reduce the carbon footprint of American transportation would require much more predictable policies sending a strong signal to American drivers that their next car should be environmentally friendly.

The Transition To Hydrogen

A carbon tax , in our view, would work better than complicated fuel-economy regulations. But even if one could be implemented in the U. Ultimately, the switch from fossil-fueled to electric vehicles is a classic chicken-and-egg problem. The government can help solve this problem by subsidizing the chickens or the eggs or both. But before that happens, there would need to be more consensus on what the future carbon-free technology will look like. Battery-powered EVs are currently ahead of the pack, but many advocates of vehicles powered by hydrogen still trust that their technology of choice will take off.

One strategy we think could help is actively encouraging drivers to buy plug-in hybrid vehicles. These vehicles can go up to 50 miles or more without burning any gasoline , further than the Yet they still have a gasoline engine to overcome any range anxiety that drivers may experience brought about by the lack of recharging infrastructure they may encounter on long trips. Getting drivers to buy more plug-in hybrids would also help to bring about a complete transition to purely electric mobility by continuing to bring down the cost of key components such as batteries, and building demand for charging stations from coast to coast.

Finally, we believe that strong new government incentives would be required to eliminate emissions from freight-hauling trucks. But progress is slow. Screen music and the question of originality - Miguel Mera — London, Islington. UEA Inaugural lecture: Alternative performance measures: do managers disclose them to inform us, or to mislead us? Edition: Available editions United Kingdom.

The Hydrogen Energy Transition : Cutting Carbon from Transportation

The race to get rid of transportation emissions is getting off to a slow start. EV improvements Cheaper batteries , government subsidies and corporate innovation have all made EVs much more affordable and functional. The average American vehicle remains in use for 16 years or more. Electric vehicles Automotive industry Energy policy decarbonization Energy transition plug-in electric vehicles electric trucks Green New Deal hybrid cars.

You might also like A new plug-in electric truck is in development, along with an electric SUV. Critics say the U. Sales of electric vehicles are growing fast, especially in Europe. Charging six cars at once is fine. Charging 60 million might be a bit tougher.