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The Future of Hydrogen Energy

[Hydrogen in a Future Integrated Energy System: Schematic illustration of the H2@Scale concept - NREL (The National Renewable Energy Laboratory)]


- Overview

Hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be used to store massive amounts of energy for grid resilience and security and it is a critical feedstock for most of the chemicals industry. 

Today, we primarily use hydrogen for oil refining and ammonia production, but there is a growing demand for it in steel manufacturing and in transportation to power vehicles, upgrade biofuels, and even produce synthetic fuels that may use carbon dioxide as a feedstock.

About 95% of the hydrogen produced in the United States comes from natural gas. It’s created using steam methane reforming, which basically uses high temperatures to convert steam and methane into hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide. 

The challenge is, global demand for hydrogen and its emerging applications could increase by a factor of ten, surpassing our current infrastructure for producing and delivering hydrogen. 

In order to meet this demand, the U.S. Department of Energy is looking at ways to develop new technologies through its H2@Scale initiative to efficiently scale-up the production of hydrogen using all of our nation’s energy sources, including nuclear.


- Hydrogen Energy

Hydrogen energy involves the use of hydrogen and/or hydrogen-containing compounds to generate energy to be supplied to all practical uses needed with high energy efficiency, overwhelming environmental and social benefits, as well as economic competitiveness.

Clean hydrogen is currently enjoying unprecedented political and business momentum, with the number of policies and projects around the world expanding rapidly. It concludes that now is the time to scale up technologies and bring down costs to allow hydrogen to become widely used.

Hydrogen and energy have a long shared history – powering the first internal combustion engines over 200 years ago to becoming an integral part of the modern refining industry. It is light, storable, energy-dense, and produces no direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases. But for hydrogen to make a significant contribution to clean energy transitions, it needs to be adopted in sectors where it is almost completely absent, such as transport, buildings and power generation.

Supplying hydrogen to industrial users is now a major business around the world. Demand for hydrogen, which has grown more than threefold since 1975, continues to rise – almost entirely supplied from fossil fuels, with 6% of global natural gas and 2% of global coal going to hydrogen production.  

As a consequence, production of hydrogen is responsible for CO2 emissions of around 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of the United Kingdom and Indonesia combined.



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