Hydrogen: the cornerstone of the energy transition and economic recovery plans
The decade of hydrogen has begun. Green Hydrogen could supply almost 20% of the world energy demand by 2050, and effectively eliminate 6 gigatons of CO2 emissions every year.
The versatility of hydrogen production, storage and transportation are significant advantages. Hydrogen systems do not use critical materials - with the exception of platinum whose content should rapidly shrink to about 20 grs. per 100kW and which has excellent recyclability. Apart from the environmental benefits of this transition, hydrogen production can help alleviate dependence on global energy supply chains and increase energy security and State sovereignty.
While we have progressed in solving some challenges, such as raising awareness of the benefits of hydrogen and convincing investors and key stakeholders of its value, certain obstacles remain. These include harmonizing the regulations governing hydrogen in different countries, accelerating green hydrogen production and ensuring reliable distribution networks. On this particular point, options exist, for example over 20,000 km of natural gas pipelines available in Europe which could be adapted for hydrogen transportation.
Fuel cell electric mobility will start with commercial vehicle applications. Hydrogen is particularly well-suited to heavy-duty and commercial vehicles as well as high-horsepower engines because of short refueling time, higher autonomy and favorable payload conditions. Through innovation, technical optimization and scaling, the cost of fuel cell systems will continue to drop dramatically. The total cost of ownership of fuel cell electric vehicles is set to overtake that of equivalent battery electric vehicles between 2025 and 2030. By 2030 fuel cell systems are projected to represent a €19 billion market.
It will also become an interesting solution in combination with smaller batteries – we call this a dual power solution, and it increases autonomy and usage flexibility.
Over the past three years, Faurecia has invested over €160 million in R&D, manufacturing, strategic partnerships and acquisitions. Our SYMBIO joint venture with Michelin is a game- changer given its differentiating stack system integration capabilities and the Faurecia and Michelin technology and business complementarities. We are both committed to building and growing the Hydrogen Valley in Lyon, France.
In 2018 our goal was to halve the cost of our fuel cell systems; we have already achieved this ahead of schedule and our revised objective is to divide the cost of hydrogen storage systems by four, and of stacks and other components by more than six by 2030.
We are also considering ways to reduce their carbon footprint through adapting manufacturing processes and the materials used to make our products more efficient, intelligent and recyclable. By equipping our fuel cell systems with sensors and using artificial intelligence, we can develop new business models and strengthen the circular economy.
While private sector investment has driven innovation and cost reduction, public sector investment is necessary to scale up the hydrogen ecosystem starting with green hydrogen production and heavy mobility solutions. As part of the French government stimulus plan, €7 billion are dedicated to hydrogen. In concert with the EU’s €750 billion Green Deal and the German government €9 billion investment in hydrogen all actors will be able to scale up their efforts and together create a strong European hydrogen network.
We are at a crucial moment where the environmental imperative to lower emissions is aligned with the economic incentive to do so. Hydrogen can both power the economic recovery and advance urgent sustainability objectives. It will create new jobs. It is a strong opportunity for the mobility industries.