Hydrogen Group Sees Rosy Future for Its Favorite Element

The Hydrogen Council predicts hydrogen could supply enough energy for the world by 2050 to eliminate more carbon dioxide than all the CO2 emitted by the U.S. in a year.

The estimated reduction of 6 gigatons of CO2 per year would eliminate the need for about 20 million barrels of oil per day, according to the group’s new Hydrogen, Scaling Up report.

Reaching that goal would require a worldwide investment of $290 billion between now and 2030 to scale up a hydrogen production, distribution and storage infrastructure. The council notes that the world currently spends more than $1.7 trillion per year in energy, including $300 billion annually within the auto industry.

The report assumes that hydrogen would power more than 400 million cars, at least 15 million trucks and about 5 million buses by 2050, a volume equal to at least 20% of their respective transportation segments. By then, hydrogen also would power 25% of passenger ships and 20% of locomotives.

The envisioned shift to hydrogen would generate more than $2.5 trillion in annual revenue and create more than 30 million jobs worldwide, according to the study.

The council’s estimate assumes the necessary hydrogen would be extracted from water using electrolysis powered by solar or wind sources. To maximize the efficiency of those sources, they would operate constantly, regardless of actual demand. Excess electricity would be used for making hydrogen, which could be stored long term until used by fuel cells to make electricity again.