Visions of hydrogen economy fading in the distance

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Visions of a hydrogen economy are no closer now than they were decades ago, according to Lux Research, with hydrogen fuel cells turning a modest $3 billion market of about 5.9 GW in 2030.

"The hydrogen supply chain is not the most critical bottleneck for fuel cell adoption," said Brian Warshay, research associate at Lux. "High capital costs and the low costs of incumbents provide a nearly insurmountable barrier to adoption, except in niche applications."

In determing the economic viability and potential of an expansive hydrogen economy in the energy sectors, Lux found:

• The costs of hydrogen compression, storage, and distribution make up the majority of the cost of hydrogen, offering the greatest opportunities for improvement and innovation.

• Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells for telecom power and backup will reach $1 billion in 2030, while fuel cells of all types for residential, commercial and utility generation will not prove cost-effective.

• Hydrogen demand from fuel cells will total 140 million kg in 2030 or just .56 percent of global merchant hydrogen demand across all industries.

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