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A Simplified Integrated Model for Studying Transitions to a Hydrogen Economy

  • Author(s): Yang, Christopher
  • Ogden, Joan M
  • et al.
Abstract

Many past studies of the 'Hydrogen Economy' have presented a steady-state portrait of a mature pathway from hydrogen production and distribution through utilization. One of the key problems surrounding the hydrogen economy is the large cost of building the infrastructure. The desire to reduce these costs associated with hydrogen infrastructure development leads to models and analysis of the dynamics of how a hydrogen supply infrastructure might grow over time, as demand for hydrogen increases in the transportation sector. To fully model hydrogen transitions is immensely complex, involving not only matching hydrogen supply and demand, but also how hydrogen interacts with the rest of the energy system, the economy, the environment and policy.

As a first approach to understanding transitions, we are developing a simplified model of the hydrogen economy – including alternative feedstocks, production technologies, distribution modes and demand scenarios. This model will be used to estimate infrastructure transition costs as a function of relatively small number of parameters for various demand scenarios. We plan to study how transition costs depend on factors such as the size and geographic density of demand, the market penetration rate, resource availability and technological progress. The goal is provide insights into low cost paths for moving our transportation fuel infrastructure from its current state to one based on large-scale use of hydrogen fuel. In this paper, we describe our overall approach and present initial results.

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