Hydrogen Energy For Indian Transport Sector – A Well-To-Wheel Techno-Economic and Environmental Feasibility Analysis

P. Balachandra, B. Sudhakara Reddy
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With the alarming rate of growth in vehicle population and travel demand, the energy consumption has increased significantly contributing to the rise of GHG emissions. Therefore, the development of a viable environmentally benign technology/fuel, which minimises both global and local environmental impacts, is the need of the hour. There are four interconnected reasons for propagating a shift towards alternative fuels/technologies: (i) Energy Supply: world oil reserves are rapidly diminishing, (ii) Environment: local pollution from vehicles is creating an atmosphere that is increasingly damaging public health and environment, (iii) Economic competitiveness: the cost of producing oil and regulating the by-products of oil consumption continues to increase, and (iv) Energy security: the military and political costs of maintaining energy security in international markets are becoming untenable. Hydrogen energy has been demonstrated as a viable alternative automotive fuel in three technological modes: internal combustion engines connected mechanically to conventional vehicles; fuel cells that produce electricity to power electric vehicles; and hybrids that involve combinations of engines or fuel cells with electrical storage systems, such as batteries The present study provides a well-to-wheel analysis of the economic and environmental implications of technologies to deliver the hydrogen energy to the vehicles. The main objectives of the study are: (i) prioritization of technologies of hydrogen production, transportation, storage and refueling, (ii) economic analysis of prioritized technology alternatives to estimate the delivered cost of hydrogen at the end-use point, and (iii) estimating the environmental impacts. To achieve the desired objectives, various quantitative life-cycle-cost analyses have been carried out for numerous pathways (i.e. technologies and processes) for hydrogen production, storage, transportation/distribution and dispensing. The total cost implications are arrived at by combining the costs of hydrogen (at end-use point) and the estimated demand for hydrogen for transport. The environmental benefits (potential to abate GHG emissions) of alternative hydrogen energy technology pathways have been worked out by using the standard emission factors. Finally, the GHG emission levels of hydrogen supply pathways are compared with those of diesel and petrol pathways. The application of this systematic methodology will simulate a realistic decision-making process.