As the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen’s role in the global market is expected to see continued growth due to its environmental advantages, advances in fuel cell technology and the development of hydrogen fuelling infrastructure.
According to the BCC Research report ‘Hydrogen as a Chemical Constituent and as an Energy Source’, there are market opportunities for hydrogen exportation, fuel cell vehicles and buses, and material-handling equipment.
Hydrogen provides an attractive potential replacement for fossil fuels because it is available everywhere and offers important environmental advantages, especially if the energy inputs required to produce it are supplied by a renewable source such as solar, wind, ocean, or geothermal energy. In addition, hydrogen can be burned as a fuel to perform work directly, or it can be converted into electricity using a fuel cell.
The market, as outlined in BCC Research’s recent report, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7%, reaching $19.7bn globally by 2023.
An estimated 70,000 fuel cell vehicles will be on the road in 2023, thereby consuming a total of 10,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year. At present, the largest energy-related application of hydrogen is in refining. Annual US production of hydrogen was an estimated 14.4 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2017, accounting for 13% of total world output of hydrogen.
“The environmental benefits of hydrogen are a very positive attribute,” said BCC Research analyst Andrew McWilliams. “When used in a fuel cell to power an electric vehicle, the emissions include only water and heat. However, hydrogen is produced using energy from natural gas, coal, or solar, wind, or nuclear power, each of which has its own environmental effects; the trade-offs are much like those related to fuels used for electricity production.”
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