The future of hydrogen energy depends on different factors and variables.
In this guide, we look at what those factors and variables might be, and why.
Summary – What Is The Future Of Hydrogen Energy?
The future of hydrogen energy is dependent on several key variables, including but not limited to:
– the cost to produce hydrogen, and use hydrogen energy, especially compared to other energy sources and fuels
– the demand of hydrogen energy technology from consumers
– the supply of hydrogen and hydrogen energy products and infrastructure from suppliers and investors
– the potential benefits and additional capabilities that hydrogen energy provides
– the potential risks of using using hydrogen energy
– the individual factors and challenges each town/city and country faces when it comes to hydrogen energy and other energy sources
We discuss each of these variables briefly below …
The Cost To Produce Hydrogen, & Use Hydrogen Energy
Energy.gov indicates that cost is the biggest challenge for hydrogen energy … ‘The greatest challenge for hydrogen production, particularly from renewable resources, is providing hydrogen at lower cost’
Cost of hydrogen energy can include the cost to produce hydrogen from a primary energy source, or the cost to use hydrogen energy in different applications, such as in fuel cells in hydrogen fuel cell cars.
Firstly, hydrogen production and capital expenditure (said to be two of the major costs components) needs to be competitive with other energy sources. The cost of fuel cells compared to other energy sources when considering capital costs seems to put it on the more expensive end of the spectrum.
Secondly, hydrogen energy and fuel has to be able to compete price wise with alternate energy and fuel, such as the cost of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles per mile compared to the cost of internal combustion gasoline vehicles per mile.
Read more about the cost of hydrogen energy in this guide.
The Demand For, & The Supply Of Hydrogen Energy Technology & Infrastructure
The demand and supply of hydrogen energy are dependent on each other, and one can’t move without the other.
Only when demand and supply increase, will hydrogen energy technology be able to start mass production/economies of scale, and scale up in terms of usage.
But, it can be a paradox when demand is not there in the first place to allow supply to increase, and vice versa.
Eia.gov indicates that cost, availability/accessibility of hydrogen energy technology and infrastructure (which impacts demand from consumers along with cost), and supply of hydrogen energy technology and infrastructure (by suppliers, investors and companies) are all interrelated:
– ‘Production of hydrogen-fueled vehicles is limited because people won’t buy those vehicles if hydrogen refueling stations are not easily accessible, and companies won’t build refueling stations if they don’t have customers with hydrogen-fueled vehicles.’
The IEA.gov resource listed below also mentions 7 key ways hydrogen energy can scale up and improve
The Potential Benefits & Additional Capabilities That Hydrogen Energy Provides
Hydrogen energy may provide a number of benefits or additional energy capabilities that other energy sources can’t, or at least can’t do effectively.
One example is that hydrogen can be produced from surplus renewable energy (like solar and wind), acting as another way to store energy (in addition to storage options like batteries).
Read more about the potential benefits of hydrogen energy in this guide.
The Potential Risks & Downsides Of Using Hydrogen Energy
Hydrogen energy can have risks, as well as downsides to it’s use.
For example, leaks, and the ignition, combustion and explosion potential of hydrogen should be considered as risks. The other potential downsides of hydrogen energy should be considered too.
How sustainable producing hydrogen from hydrocarbons like methane/natural is should be considered too.
The Individual Factors Impacting Energy & Hydrogen Energy In Each Geographic Region
However, each geographic region, like cities and countries, face different challenges and factors in introducing or expanding the use of hydrogen energy.
These challenges can relate to areas like laws and regulations, finances and funding, politics, climate and natural resources, ability to modify or build new energy infrastructure, and more
Read about some of the challenges for Australia as one example in this guide (cost, regulatory framework, underdeveloped end use markets, and lack of demand are some of the challenges)
1. Various BMR resources