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Role of Hydrogen-based Energy Carriers as an Alternative Option to Reduce Residual Emissions Associated with Mid-century Decarbonization Goals


Hydrogen-based energy carriers, including hydrogen, ammonia and synthetic hydrocarbons, are expected to help reduce residual carbon dioxide emissions in the context of the Paris Agreement goals, although their potential has not yet been fully clarified in light of their competitiveness and complementarity with other mitigation options such as electricity, biofuels and carbon capture and storage (CCS). This study aimed to explore the role of hydrogen in the global energy system under various mitigation scenarios and technology portfolios using a detailed energy system model that considers various energy technologies including the conversion and use of hydrogen-based energy carriers. The results indicate that the share of hydrogen-based energy carriers generally remains less than 5% of global final energy demand by 2050 in the 2 ◦C scenarios. Nevertheless, such carriers contribute to removal of residual emissions from the industry and transport sectors under specific conditions. Their share increases to 10–15% under stringent mitigation scenarios corresponding to 1.5 ◦C warming and scenarios without CCS. The transport sector is the largest consumer, accounting for half or more of hydrogen production, followed by the industry and power sectors. In addition to direct usage of hydrogen and ammonia, synthetic hydrocarbons converted from hydrogen and carbon captured from biomass or direct air capture are attractive transport fuels, growing to half of all hydrogen-based energy carriers. Upscaling of electrification and biofuels is another common cost-effective strategy, revealing the importance of holistic policy design rather than heavy reliance on hydrogen.

Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Austria ; Japan

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