Transport: Structural differences in the economics of contrasting approaches to urban H2 infrastructure development for transport

David Joffe, University of Cambridge

If hydrogen vehicles are to be deployed, an infrastructure must be developed to supply the hydrogen and refuel the vehicles. While hydrogen from existing industrial capacity could serve small-scale vehicle demonstrations, dedicated facilities for hydrogen production are likely to be required for significant levels of deployment.

Cities represent a considerable opportunity for H2 infrastructure development, as the relatively high density of potential demand offers the possibility to establish the critical mass required to bring down costs to competitive levels. However, the type of infrastructure for hydrogen supply that would develop in cities is likely to be somewhat different than that which would develop in rural areas, or indeed to that which exists for conventional fuels.

Developing infrastructure for producing hydrogen and supplying it refuelling stations can be done in several different ways, of varying degrees of centralisation and using different methods of hydrogen distribution. The choice of H2 distribution option and the degree of centralisation of production are closely linked; the more centralised, the greater the need for distribution. In turn, this affects the choice of production technology, as some options are better suited to large-scale, others to small.

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