The embryonic automotive fuel cell industry—whether or not aided by governments—must invest some $2 billion in creating a hydrogen fueling station infrastructure by 2012 if market expectations are to be met. This conclusion is one of the key forecasts contained in ABI Research's new study, "Hydrogen Infrastructure," which evaluates the production and distribution pathways that will be essential for any major fuel-cell vehicle introduction, and reviews potential fuel sources for hydrogen generation.
Natural gas, coal, ethanol and methanol, biomass gasification, electrolysis, solar and wind energy, and even nuclear reactions are all potential sources for the hydrogen needed to run fuel cells. The study analyzes each in detail, with emphasis on natural gas as the most likely candidate.
"Once the hydrogen is produced, it must be distributed to a large number of fueling stations," notes Atakan Ozbek, ABI Research's director of energy research. "That could be done via pipelines, or by trucks, or even by generating the hydrogen on-site. Then it must be stored, and a number of options are available."
Will the hydrogen supply chain be up to the task? Yes, Ozbek believes, if sufficient R&D funding is directed to two critical areas: production technologies and storage methods. "Government spending in these areas—and in setting up more pilot projects—will be the catalyst enabling wider commercialization."
The study forecasts the number of fuel cell-powered vehicles that will be produced in North America, the EU and Japan, along with other global regions, and the number of fueling stations that will be required. It presents a detailed matrix of hydrogen infrastructure developments by production, by distribution and by storage pathway.
For more information, visit www.abiresearch.com.