The COP21 climate conference held in Paris in late 2015 placed climate change at the top of international and economic efforts. Hydrogen and fuel cells are part of the solution to the climate crisis and could become the cornerstone of tomorrow’s energy and transportation systems.
Key industries such as oil refineries, ammonia production, glass production, the food industry, glass, metal and electronics production have been using hydrogen for decades. Market research firm Markets expects the current hydrogen market to grow from the current $ 118 billion to $ 152 billion by 2021. In recent decades, the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen have led many to promote the development of hydrogen as an energy carrier. In combination with oxygen in fuel cells (electrochemical energy conversion devices), hydrogen can produce carbon-free electricity and heat and water as the only by-product. Hydrogen is a clean and efficient alternative to the conventional fossil fuels it has in abundance.
Cars remain one of the most attractive areas for the application of fuel cells, although it is the application with the most challenges from a technological and economic perspective, as the use of hydrogen as a fuel to generate energy or start up faces a number of challenges.
Namely, hydrogen is not the primary naturally available source of energy, but it is an energy carrier, such as electricity, which needs an external energy source to separate hydrogen atoms from other atoms in complex molecules such as water, hydrocarbons or biomass. Today, more than 95% of hydrogen is obtained from fossil fuels through high-carbon processes, but alternative production technologies are already beginning to emerge, among which water electrolysis in particular provides a promising way to produce green hydrogen – hydrogen produced by renewable energy with low carbon emissions. – and facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources into the energy production system.
In addition to water electrolysis, the solution to the wider use of fuel cell cars could lie in a coordinated investment approach between infrastructure stakeholders, car manufacturers and government bodies globally and locally to ensure a synchronized system of hydrogen production and distribution and fuel cell sales. would solve the problem of interdependence of these two sectors, ie investment in fuel cell filling stations and investment in the production of fuel cell cars. The H2Mobility initiative in Germany and similar projects in Japan and California are good role models for such efforts.