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A Portfolio of Powertrains for the UK: An Energy Systems Analysis


There has recently been a concerted effort to commence a transition to fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in Europe. A coalition of companies released an influential McKinsey-coordinated report in 2010, which concluded that FCVs are ready for commercial deployment. Public–private H2Mobility programmes have subsequently been established across Europe to develop business cases for the introduction of FCVs. In this paper, we examine the conclusions of these studies from an energy systems perspective, using the UK as a case study. Other UK energy system studies have identified only a minor role for FCVs, after 2030, but we reconcile these views by showing that the differences are primarily driven by different data assumptions rather than methodological differences. Some energy system models do not start a transition to FCVs until around 2040 as they do not account for the time normally taken for the diffusion of new powertrains. We show that applying dynamic growth constraints to the UK MARKAL energy system model more realistically represents insights from innovation theory. We conclude that the optimum deployment of FCVs, from an energy systems perspective, is broadly in line with the roadmap developed by UK H2Mobility and that a transition needs to commence soon if FCVs are to become widespread by 2050.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United Kingdom

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