Recent Changes - Search:




edit SideBar

Future Pathways

If hydrogen is to play a major role in a future energy economy, the whole spectrum of primary energies (fossil, nuclear, renewable) for its production must be considered. The question of which energy source to be utilized, will be finally decided by the respective country with respect to its domestic resources, and methods on how to guarantee energy security.

In the near and medium term, fossil fuels are expected to remain the principal source for hydrogen. Natural gas as the “cleanest” fuel among the hydrocarbons has various advantages as a starting point for the initial hydrogen market (transition phase) as a source of hydrogen in terms of environmental impact (highest H/C ratio), availability, and economy. Also transportation and distribution is very convenient. Coal countries like China, the USA, or Australia with abundant deposits may use in future their coal representing a reliable long-term and low cost resource for H2 production.

The use of hydrocarbons in hydrogen production systems will require a carbon sequestration functionality in order to realize the benefits of hydrogen production in general. Such a technique, however, can be applied only to large-scale plants and is not feasible for decentralized systems. The sequestration of CO2 is an energy intensive (estimated 5 MJ/kg of CO2) and costly process with limited sites and still ecological uncertainties..

With respect to nuclear primary energy, new reactor concepts of the next generation (Gen IV) may offer the chance to deliver besides the classical electricity also non-electrical products such as hydrogen or other fuels. Nuclear steam reforming represents an important near-term option for both the captive and merchant H2 market, since principal technologies were developed. On the longer term, nuclear may provide the process heat for water splitting processes. Technical and economical feasibility, however, remains to be demonstrated; since production processes have not yet been tested beyond pilot plant scale. In a future energy economy, hydrogen as a storable medium could adjust a variable demand for electricity via fuel cell power plants (“hydricity”) and also serve as spinning reserve. Prerequisites for such systems, however, would be competitive nuclear hydrogen production, a large-scale (underground) storage at low cost as well as economic fuel cell plants (ForsbergCW:2005).

Solar, wind, geothermal are typically providing low-intensity energy and are presently not yet the serious competitor for mainstream base-load power supply with few exceptions. However, renewable energies are increasingly used in all countries. A new industry is being created with numerous opportunities. Low-density energy technologies incl. biomass are more valuable for electricity production rather than suppliers of merchant H2. Renewables will contribute to local power needs.


Forsberg C.W. (2005) What is the initial market for hydrogen from nuclear energy. Nuclear News.(BibTeX)
---- << EU projects within Hydrogen production and distribution 2002 – 2006 | Content | Introduction >>

Edit - History - Print - Recent Changes - Search
Page last modified on December 19, 2008, at 03:13 PM