Hydrogen

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

🕐 Last updated Tuesday, 7 August 2018

What's changed?

More efforts needed

The global fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) car stock reached 8 000 units in 2017, with the United States and Japan accounting for nearly 90% of the global fleet. Focus on hydrogen is increasing from a variety of countries and companies, with the IEA also strengthening its own analytical capability.


Hydrogen’s potential role in the energy system

Hydrogen can link different energy sectors and energy transmission and distribution networks, and thus increase the operational flexibility of future low-carbon energy systems.

FIGURE: Hydrogen's role in the energy system

Hydrogen is a flexible energy carrier that can be produced from any regionally-prevalent primary energy source. Moreover, it can be effectively transformed into any form of energy for diverse end-use applications supporting decarbonisation in transport, industry, buildings and power.

Hydrogen is particularly well suited in fuel cells that efficiently use hydrogen to generate electricity. As an energy carrier, hydrogen can enable new linkages between energy supply and demand, in both a centralised or decentralised manner, potentially enhancing overall energy system flexibility.

Currently, the largest use of hydrogen is in industry and refining as a by-product from industrial plants and as a product from reforming of national gas, liquefied petroleum gas and coal gasification.


Stock of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) in 2017

The US is the world leader in fuel cell vehicle deployment...

	FCEVs
US	4500
Japan	2400
Germany	500
France	250
China	60
Netherlands	41
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The global fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) car stock reached 8 000 units in April 2018. The United States represents the largest fleet with 4 500 FCEV, mainly registered in California where the Zero Emission Vehicle Programme has driven sales. Japan has the second-largest FCEV stock with 2 400 units, followed by Germany and France. In addition 150 FC buses have been introduced in China and 60 FC buses in Germany.

Hydrogen fuelling stations by country, 2017

...but Japan has more than twice as many fuelling stations.

	Fuelling stations
Japan	100
Germany	43
US	38
France	20
UK	15
Korea	10
China	10
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Compared to BEVs, FCEV deployment is slow, but hydrogen focused national policies which have been recently announced could help accelerate deployment.

The "Basic Hydrogen Strategy" released by Japan in December 2017 outlines the first-ever hydrogen focused policy with ambitious targets for FCEV, hydrogen fuelling stations and small scale micro CHP (Ene-Farm) systems.

In June 2018, France announced its "Hydrogen Deployment Plan for Energy Transition" which includes targets for hydrogen deployment that includes 20-40% green hydrogen production and a reduction of electrolysis cost to 2-3 Euro per kg by 2028.

In Europe, there is growing interest for renewable hydrogen via electrolysis fuelled by wind and solar to produce methane or ammonia. Additional deployment targets for FCEV and hydrogen fuelling stations are shown below

National FCEV targets

2020 2023 2025 2028 2030
US 13 000 40 000
Japan 40 000 200 000 800 000
France 5 000 20 000-50 000
China 5 000 50 000 1 000 000
Netherlands 2 000
Korea 10 000 100 000 630 000

National hydrogen fuelling station targets

2020 2023 2025 2028 2030
US 80 100
Japan 160 320
France 100 400-1 000
China 100 300 500
Germany 100 400 1 000
Korea 100 210 520

Investment in water electrolysis to produce hydrogen for clean energy applications is on the rise. If all the current projects come online by 2020, cumulative capacity will rise from 55MW in 2017 to over 150MW. The Shell Rheinland refinery in Germany is planning to introduce renewable hydrogen in 2020, which comprises a 10MW electrolyzer, to substitute fossil fuel-based hydrogen feedstock and reduce the plant's emissions.

In stationary applications, more than 235MW of fuel cell back up power generators have been installed in the United States and in Japan 42 000 small-scale micro CHP systems (Ene-Farm) were deployed in 2017, bringing cumulative installations to nearly 236 000 units.

Transferring hydrogen long distances represents a significant challenge and will require either liquefaction (liquid hydrogen) or conversion to hydrogen-rich compounds such as ammonia. Two demonstration projects are currently planned to export hydrogen by ship from Brunei and Australia in 2020.

Read more in the Global Trends and Outlook for Hydrogen (2017) report prepared by the IEA Hydrogen Technology Collaboration Program (TCP) and the IEA Technology Roadmap – Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (2015).


Innovation

The IEA’s new Innovation Tracking Framework identifies key long-term “technology innovation gaps” across the energy mix that need to be filled in order to meet long-term clean energy transition goals. Each innovation gap highlights where R&D investment and other efforts need improvement.

Explore the technology innovation gaps identified for hydrogen below:

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Hydrogen produced from excess power during periods of abundant generation from renewables could play a key role in power systems.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Increase activity and utilisation, or fully avoid the use of platinum; direct R&D to increase durability and reduce degradation of fuel cell mechanisms (e.g. self-healing membranes for polymer-based systems).

Key initiatives

US DOE's Fuel Cell Technologies Office call for USD 39 million in total focuses funding in three areas: Accelerating the development of PGM-free catalysts and electrodes, hydrogen infrastructure at scale, and innovative concepts including reversible and liquid fuel cell components.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Potential for hydrogen use at a larger scale, including injection of power in the electricity grid from long-term hydrogen storage.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Explore technologies that provide enhanced material capabilities, reduced air cooling and leakage, and higher pressure ratios than conventional turbines. This includes improved cooling (internal surface cooling, airfoil surface cooling with film cooling), improved sealing (e.g. modelling sealing and stability digitally), develop rotor rim geometry concepts to maintain aerodynamic efficiency.

Key initiatives

  • Extant DOE Advanced H2/IGCC gas turbine programme.
  • NETL Hydrogen Turbine Program, 3100 F Hydrogen turbine goal, transformational H2 production.

Explore all 100+ innovation gaps across 38 key technologies and sectors here.


Updates to this page

  • 7 August, 2018: Added charts on FCEV and fuelling station deployment, targets by country and more detail on recent trends.