The United States, like many countries, is seeking a variety of ways to decarbonize.
The US hydrogen industry could become big business by 2050. In fact, the Energy Policy Simulator (EPS) lays out different pathways in which hydrogen (H2) could become a major part of America’s energy mix, which would see it generate revenue of $130 – $170 billion per year by 2050. At the same time, this could result in lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 20 or 120 million metric tons of carbon emissions equivalent each year.
Three scenarios generated by the EPS reveal some of the most interesting ways hydrogen can expand.
The Energy Policy Simulator is an open-source computer model that is also free. It is able to approximate the impact that technologies, energies and policies may have. As such, users of EPS are able to explore the future of hydrogen in the United States.
According to a report from Forbes, the three most interesting scenarios for the future US hydrogen industry include:
• First case – US hydrogen production remains dominated by fossil fuels, which would result in modest growth and keep it in line with current predictions from the US Energy Information Administration. This would mean 95% of hydrogen comes from natural gas and 5% from electrolysis.
• Second case – Hydrogen demand grows gradually over time, which boosts the share of newly-sold vehicles powered by hydrogen to 5% (cars and light trucks) or 10% (buses, medium and heavy trucks) by 2050. That being said, this scenario still relies on hydrogen from 95% natural gas and 5% electrolysis.
• Third case – Hydrogen demand plus electrolysis. In this scenario, hydrogen demand evolves in both the industry and transportation sectors, which would lead to a gradual transition of hydrogen produced from 100% electrolysis methods by 2050.
What is needed for the US hydrogen industry to grow to a $130 billion industry or higher?
While hydrogen does have the potential to play an integral role in the decarbonizing of energy in the US, it is important to note that no single fuel or technology on its own will be the solution to climate change.
Still, in terms of the US hydrogen industry, how successful the transition will be depends on high-quality research as well as developing cheaper and greener ways to develop hydrogen technology. In short, many experts believe that hydrogen technology requires far more research before it can achieve its full potential.