Pathways for a Transition to a Sustainable Hydrogen Transportation Fuel Infrastructure in California

Diploma Thesis, 2003

174 Pages, Grade: 1.0 (A)


Table of Contents


I. Introduction
1. Summary of the work
2. Environmental, economic, and political challenges associated with the use of fossil fuels, especially oil
2.1 Environmental and Social Problems with Fossil Fuels
2.1.1 Environmental pollution - Oil spills and discharges
2.1.2 Environmental pollution - Local Emissions
2.1.3 Environmental pollution - Global Climate Change
2.2 Exploitation of non-renewable resources
2.3 Economic dependence on finite resources
3. Facts about California

II. Technical background
4. Fuel Options for Transportation
5. Alternative means of transportation
6. Hydrogen and Transportation
6.1 Physical and Chemical Properties of Hydrogen
6.2 Use of hydrogen
6.2.1 Contemporary use of hydrogen
6.2.2 Fuel Cells
6.2.3 Safety
6.3 Manufacture of Hydrogen
6.5 Transportation of Hydrogen
6.6 Retail Infrastructure for Hydrogen
6.7 The Hydrogen Economy
6.8 Selected Hydrogen Programs and Cooperations
7. Electrolysis of Water
7.2 Opportunities and Problems of Hydrogen Production with Electrolysis
7.3 Electrolyzer Appliances
7.4 Feedstocks for Electricity Generation

III. Analysis of Different Hydrogen Production Pathways
8. Criteria for the Analysis
9. Different Fuel and Vehicle Scenarios
10. The GREET 1.6 Model
11. GREET Input Assumptions
12. GREET Results
12.1 Energy Consumption
12.2 CO2 and GHG Emissions
13 Hydrogen Production Costs
IV. Policy Options
14 Policy Instruments
15 Policy Instruments in Place

V. Conclusion and Outlook

VI. References

VII. Annex



Units of Measurement

SI: International System of Units

Conversion Factors

Hydrogen Vehicles

Index of Figures

Figure 1: Combined global land and marine surface temperatures (°C) from 1856 to including smoothened values (red curve)

Figure 2: Crude Oil Reserves in Billion Barrel, January 2002

Figure 3: Simplified diagram of primary energy sources and production of fuels

Figure 4: Dependence of the efficiency of fuel cell drive system and internal combustion engine on average driving speed

Figure 5: Fuel Cell Vehicle Options

Figure 6: Subjective estimates of vehicle complexity compared to fuel infrastructure costs per vehicle supported (including stationary and onboard fuel processing costs.)

Figure 7: Chemical Structure of Common Fuels

Figure 8: Energy density of fuels as liquids and at atmospheric conditions

Figure 9: Lower Heating Value of fuels at 1 atm and 25°C

Figure 11: Power Generating Systems Efficiency Comparison

Figure 12: Storage Volume and Weight of Comparative Fuels

Figure 13: Typical Electrolysis Cell

Figure 14: Electrolyzer Appliances

Figure 15: Full Fuel-Cycle Analysis (from well to wheels). Stage 1 and 2 are also called upstream stages, stage 3 is the downstream stage

Figure 16: Per Vehicle Energy Consumption Results for the years assessed

Figure 17: Per Vehicle Fossil Fuel Consumption Results for the years assessed

Figure 18: Changes in Total California Energy Consumption

Figure 19: Per Vehicle GHG Emission Changes for the analyzed years

Figure 20: Per Vehicle CO2 Emission Changes for the analyzed years

Figure 21: Changes in Total California CO2 Emissions

Figure 22: Comparing the Calculated Maximum Allowable NG and Electricity Prices with the Actual Price Forecasts

Figure 23: Residual Margin for Capital Investment in Station NG Reformer

Figure 24: Residual Margin for Capital Investment in Station Electrolyzers

Index of Tables

Table 1: Fuel properties

Table 2: Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Passenger Vehicle Technology

Table 3: Fuel Cells

Table 4: Fuel Cells

Table 5: Fuel Scenarios used for the Analysis

Table 6: Vehicle Scenarios used for the Analysis

Table 7: California Grid Electricity Generation Mix Assumptions

Table 8: GREET Fuel Production Assumptions

Table 9: GREET Hydrogen Production Efficiency Assumptions

Table 10: Fuel Economy and Emission Ratio Assumptions of different GREET vehicle options

Table 11: GREET Vehicle Fuel Economy Assumptions

Table 12: Slow FCV Introduction:

Table 13: Accelerated FCV Introduction

Table 14: FCV H2 Supply Scenarios

Table 15: Reference Scenario: No FCV Introduction

Table 16: CARB Vehicle Emission Standards

Table 17: Comparison of FCV technology with SIDI vehicles (high case)

Table 18: Comparison of FCV technology with GI HEV vehicles (low case)

Table 19: Comparative Hydrogen Fuel Price


As society enters the 21st century, there is a growing awareness of the burdens being placed on the planet, as its ability to keep up with the demands of modern society are strained. One of the major contributors to this burden happens to be a main resource required for sustained development. Energy has always been, and will always be a necessary resource for existence. Since the industrial revolution, fossil fuels such as coal and oil have been the main-stay fuel to accommodate society's appetite. As the demand for this resource increases, the climatic and socio-economic costs of this fuel become more acute, and it is well documented that the supply of this fuel is not endless. One of the major consumers of this fuel, as a society, is the transportation sector. The processes in place which take it from the ground, to its combustion as a fuel, are some of the main culprits which adversely affect the planet. This thesis explores the issues associated with the introduction of another energy resource - Hydrogen - as a replacement fuel for the transportation industry.

It is argued that for the transportation sector, Hydrogen offers the most promising alternative as a fuel. Making Hydrogen readily available and affordable through the retail infrastructure is of paramount importance, if its widespread use is to be achieved. The logistics of this are explored, and it is believed that the introduction of small Hydrogen fuelers at existing retail outlets, is the preferred method to instantiate the transition in the short to medium term. Those fueling stations can utilize grid electricity to produce Hydrogen by the means of water electrolysis, or take advantage of the existing Natural Gas distribution infrastructure to produce Hydrogen via steam reformation. This thesis examines the Well-to-Wheels impacts and economic feasibility of those options and compares them to existing vehicle and fuel technologies.

The state of California was chosen as a target market due to its high automobile density, the resulting pollution issues, and its clear mandate on promoting alternative energy sources.

I. Introduction

1. Summary of the work

The work is sectioned in four parts I - IV.

The Introduction Section (I) discusses the issues which warrant a transition from a fossil fuel based society into a cleaner, more sustainable energy resource dependence. It presents ecological, socio-economic, and socio-political issues driving the need for alternative energy source such as Hydrogen for use in transportation. It then suggests why Hydrogen is a preferable source of sustainable energy to avoid further depletion of non-renewable resources and mitigate air pollution and how electrolytic Hydrogen produced with green power and used in fuel cells can avoid any net carbon dioxide production. The second part of this section deals with California’s unique qualities that explain why it was chosen as location.

Section II details different options for alternative transport fuels and vehicles. Facts and concerns about hydrogen and electrolysis are further elaborated on. Competing fuel cell architectures are presented as well as technical, socio-economic, and political issues involved in implementing an infrastructure that supports Hydrogen as a transport fuel. The final chapter of the technical background section describes the water electrolysis process, and presents supporting arguments for the use of this process as the preferred method of Hydrogen production in the long term.

The actual analysis is done in section III. The small-scale options reformation of natural gas and electrolysis using grid electricity are assessed and compared with centralized natural gas reformation in terms of (CO2 and GHG) emissions and (fossil fuel and total) energy consumption. The model used for the analysis performs a full fuel-cycle (Well-to-Wheels) analysis that means it does not only evaluate the fuel production (Well-to-Pump) but also its use in respective vehicle technologies (Pump-to-Wheels). Hydrogen produced by natural gas reformation and electrolysis is used by vehicles utilizing very fuel efficient fuel cells. Battery powered electric vehicles charged with grid electricity, regular and advanced gasoline vehicles and hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles are used as benchmarks to assess, compare, and evaluate the Well-to-Wheels effects of the different fuel/vehicle options.

The last section (IV) concludes the analysis and presents outlooks for the transition period. It describes policy options and recommendations for California and the US to promote a fast and efficient transition to Hydrogen.

2. Environmental, economic, and political challenges associated with the use of fossil fuels, especially oil

The use of fossil fuels made industrialization and life as we know it possible. But it also has negative impacts on society and on nature. Of those impacts oil spills, local air pollution, the greenhouse effect, national and international security concerns, and social injustice are specified explicitly below.

2.1 Environmental and Social Problems with Fossil Fuels

2.1.1 Environmental pollution - Oil spills and discharges

Regular Production-related1 spills and pollution:

It is estimated that 260 000 tons of oil are induced into the North Sea every year. Of the 205 million tons that are produced, 10 000 tons are induced during regular production (eg through production water). 5000 to 8000 square kilometers of North Sea Ground is contaminated.2 In Russia annual spills of 15 million tons of crude oil (up to 10% of production) contaminate the tundra and taiga. Pipeline maintenance is poor and no official statistics exist about the spilled amounts. In July 1994 350000 tons of oil spilled into the river Petschora contaminating the arctic and threatened the Petschora Delta. This was the 6th biggest oil disaster in history. In northern Russia 25-50% of the Natural Gas escapes without being flared.3 Methane (CH4), the main component of Natural Gas, is a greenhouse gas that poses a serious threat to the stratospheric ozone layer. It has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.4

The next step on the way from the crude oil to gasoline is the transport from oil wells to the refineries, from the refineries to storage tanks, and from there to the distribution sites. These transportation and storage processes have a big impact on the environment whenever something goes wrong. The goal of maximizing profits by using outdated and cheaper singlehull ships registered in countries with lax security measures as well as insufficient precautions constantly lead to disasters.

The biggest disaster in US history was the Exxon Valdez spill on March 24, 1989 when 42000 tons of oil spilled into the biologically rich waters of Prince William Sound contaminating 2000 kilometers of shoreline and killing nearly 2,800 sea otters, 250,000 seabirds, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles and 22 killer whales. A decade later most affected species are still striving to recover.5 The Aegean Captain in 1979 lost the record amount of 300000 tons of oil off the coast of Venezuela. In 1993 the Braer lost up to 98000 tons of crude oil off the Shetland Islands killing hundreds of rare sea birds. In February 1996 the Sea Empress hits a rock of the bird sanctuaries of South Wales, losing 80000 tons of mineral oil, contaminating 200 kilometers of shoreline and killing more than 25000 birds. 1999 the Erika lost about 20000 tons of heavy fuel oil contaminating 500 kilometers of Bretagne coastline and killing 300000 sea birds. The damage was estimated to be 500 million Euro which excludes ecological damage for people and wildlife. The 30 year old single-hull tanker Jessica ran offground in January 2001 off Ecuador and lost more than 800000 liters of crude oil and diesel that posed a serious threat to the unique nature reserve of the Galapagos Islands. The Prestige sprang a leak on November 13, 2002 broke apart 6 days later and lost about 40 000 tons of heavy fuel oil of the 77 000 tons it had on board contaminating the Spanish and French coast, seriously affecting the fishing industry. And then there are normal cargo-ships that loose fuel, oil, and toxic chemicals; e.g. the Pallas run aground in October 1998 and lost 50 tons of oil of Amrum - 26 000 birds died.6 These are well-known examples of the problem, but minor spills happen constantly.

In California, the oxygenate MTBE was added to gasoline to make it meet the more stringent combustion regulations of California Reformulated Gasoline (CaRFG) to lessen air pollution. This improvement in cleaner air came with the trade-off of MTBE contaminated water in large areas, resulting mainly from underground tank spills. MTBE is suspected to cause cancer and has to be phased out no later than December 31, 2003: It will be replaced with the oxygenate Ethanol, which is more expensive to produce but not harmful to health or the environment7.

Despite the devastating effects of these catastrophes, a large share of the environmental problems of fossil fuels is caused by their intentional accident-free use, mainly in combustion processes. Road traffic pollutes the air through combustion emissions and fuel evaporation.

2.1.2 Environmental pollution - Local Emissions

Hydrocarbons like gasoline would ideally be burnt completely create nothing but carbon dioxide and water in their exhaust. Combustion processes however, are never 100% complete, and that is when emissions like carbon monoxide (CO), nitrous oxides (NOx), unburned hydrocarbons (volatile organic compounds - VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) form. Other unwanted combustion by-products result from impurities in the crude oil. Due to its large share of fossil fuel use, traffic plays a major emission role. Transportation’s share of US oil use 2002 is at an all-time high of 67.3%8 and transportation share of US carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption was 33% in 2000, and growing9.

The fuel combustion process can be optimized to minimize emissions, but there is no internal combustion engine available yet, that does not produce carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides or unburned hydrocarbons in the process of burning the gasoline.

This paragraph investigates in the production of various pollutants by combustion of hydrocarbons and the effects they have on human health, animal and plant life. The next chapter (1.1c) shows how the consumption of fossil energy leads to climate change.

Toxic air pollutants can increase risks of experiencing health problems and can cause ecological impacts. Benzene, lead and ethylene dibromide are some of the well-known gasoline additives that cause cancer. Acetaldehyde, Acrolein, 1,3-Butadiene, Cadmium, Chromium, Diesel Particulate Matter (PM), Formaldehyde and Polycyclic organic matter (POM) are pollutants contained in motor vehicle exhaust.

Contact or inhalation of these pollutants can increase the cancer risk or damage to the immune system, as well as cause neurological, reproductive (e.g. reduced fertility), developmental, respiratory and other health problems10.

Particulate matter with a size up to 10 micrometers (PM10) is inhalable and can accumulate in the respiratory system. This is associated with numerous health effects such as heart and lung disease, increased respiratory symptoms and disease, decreased lung function, asthma, and even premature death. PM is also the major cause of reduced visibility in many parts of the United States and airborne particles damage paints and building materials11.

The pollutant ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is formed when sunlight acts on combustion residues of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC unburned Hydrocarbons (CH)). Ozone in the lower atmosphere is referred to as tropospheric ozone or ground level ozone and constitutes the main ingredient of summer smog. It is impacted by temperature, wind speed and direction, time of day and driving pattern and usually occurs during summer months in the afternoons or even over longer ozone periods of several days12.

Tropospheric ozone is toxic to human beings, animals and plants. Even at very low doses ozone can irritate the mucous membranes of humans and animals, harm plant resistance, and reduce crop yields. On the other hand the stratospheric ozone layer protects the earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays13.

Traffic-related emissions of SO2 and NOx give rise to Acidification, which changes eco systems, causes forest dieback ("Waldsterben") and thus alters the biotic life conditions. In 2002 64.7% of the trees in Germany were found damaged. 89.6% in Poland and the Czech Republic and 97.4% in the Ukraine a lot of it due to acidification14.

Eutrophication (the excessive accumulation of nutrients) is caused by direct atmospheric deposition of airborne Nitrogen (N) compounds (in NOx) from combustion processes on the water surface. Nitrogen acts like a fertilizer, advancing the growth conditions in inland waters and oceans which results in amplified algae growth. The decomposition of those algae releases toxic substances and deprives the waters of oxygen.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set national air quality standards for six principal pollutants (referred to as "criteria" pollutants): carbon monoxide (CO), lead (Pb), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)15.

Diffuse emissions by vehicles do not only have local effects on the environment, but also global impacts on the atmosphere: Climate Change (next chapter) and the depletion of the protective ozone layer in the stratosphere e.g. by Nitrous Oxides (N2O) emissions. Regeneration of this protective layer might take decades and its thinning out increases the UV-B radiation on the surface of the earth. This means a higher risk of skin cancers and negative (burning) effects on animal and plant life16.

2.1.3 Environmental pollution - Global Climate Change

Automakers were pressured by the growing local air pollution especially in some conurbation areas and resulting public pressure and local and federal vehicle exhaust standards (like the 1990 Clean Air Act17 ). They addressed the pressing problem of reducing PM, NOx, VOCs and CO emissions by means of new technologies like ever improving catalytic converters. What has been neglected though, especially in countries like the US where gas prices were easily affordable over an extended amount of time, was the reduction of energy consumption; the overall US light vehicle fleet fuel economy in 2001 was the lowest since model year 198018. The amount of fuel consumed is directly related to the amount of CO2 emitted, so unlike the emissions mentioned above, CO2 production can not be avoided. This lies in the nature of the chemical reaction of burning hydrocarbons that are split into their compounds Hydrogen, which forms water with the oxygen of the air, and carbon, which forms carbon dioxide, also using up oxygen.

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)

Water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone are greenhouse gases that occur naturally in the atmosphere. They absorb infrared radiation from the sun and trap a part of the earth’s radiant heat, somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse. Natural occurring greenhouse effect is balanced by outgoing terrestrial radiation emitted into space and results in an average surface temperature on earth of about 15°C19. Natural Greenhouse effect is important, if it wasn’t for those infrared-absorbing (greenhouse) gases in the atmosphere, earth temperatures would be about 33°C lower, and life as we know it would not be possible. Naturally occurring greenhouse gases originate from forest fires (CO2, HCs), plant respiration (CO2), swamps and decomposition of organic matter (CH4). Atmospheric levels of these natural GHGs have generally been in a balance during the centuries leading up to the industrial revolution. Oceans absorbed CO2 and photosynthesis from large forest areas (rainforests) turned the CO2 back into oxygen (O2) and organic matter20.

The anthropogenic greenhouse effect, however, is caused by human activities that increased the atmospheric concentrations of most of these naturally occurring gases - primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) - over the last century and disturb this fragile balance. More outgoing radiation is trapped and heats the Earth's surface and atmosphere20.

The burning of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal) is a human activity that has a significant impact on the chemical composition of the atmosphere: it releases the carbon stored in those hydrocarbon energy carriers in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is a non-toxic gas, whose concentration in the earth’s atmosphere is supposed to be around 0.03%. Excessive utilisation of fossil energy, which releases CO2 that was stored safely in oil and gas fields under ground, however, steadily increased CO2 concentrations in the air about 30% since the beginning of industrialization20.

Fossil fuel combustion is also a major source of nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas with approximately 310 times more heat trapping potential than CO2 over a 100-year time horizon21. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, human activities have raised atmospheric concentrations of N2O by approximately 15 percent20.

Methane (CH4) is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil and is estimated to have 21 times the heat trapping potential of CO221. Over the last two centuries, methane's concentration in the atmosphere has more than doubled. Other effects of human civilization like agriculture, deforestation, landfills, industrial production, and mining further accelerate the speed of CO2 concentrations increasing20.

On top of that, rising atmosphere temperatures speed up natural processes, like the decay of organic matter, promote the creation of new swamps and heat the ocean temperature which reduces their ability to store CO2.

The United States are with 25% the largest single contributor to greenhouse gas emissions; Europe & Asia accounted for 26%, the Developing World for 24%, Russia & Eastern Europe for 13% and China for 12% of the 2002 GHG emissions22. US carbon dioxide emissions in 2000 were 17% higher than in 1990. The EPA expects the CO2 concentrations in 2100 to be 30-150% higher than today's levels23. In 2000 CO2 accounted for 1,583 million tons of carbon, methane for 177, and nitrous oxides for 99 million metric tons of carbon in the US24. One gallon of gasoline emits more than 2.4 kg carbon or 8.8 kg CO225 into the atmosphere when burned. The EPA estimates that the combustion of fossil fuels for transportation, heating and power production accounts for about 98% of US carbon dioxide emissions, 24% of methane emissions, and 18% of nitrous oxide emissions23. Transportation share of US carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption was 33% in 2000, and is growing26. In California transportation even accounts for 58% of carbon dioxide emissions, whereas residential emissions are only 9%, and commercial 4%. Industry is responsible for 13% and electricity generation for 16%27. In 1999 84% of California Greenhouse gas emissions sources were CO2; only 8% from Methane, 6% from nitrous oxides and 2% from Hydrofluorcarbons that are used as refrigerants28.

Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change

Increasing levels of GHGs in the atmosphere will eventually have global impacts on the climate; oceans and aerosol emissions might buffer or delay or temporarily mitigate dramatic impacts but GHGs have a long lifespan in the atmosphere, so only future generations will experience the full effects of our present and past behavior. The heat-trapping property of these GHGs is undisputed although uncertainties exist about exactly how earth's climate responds to them29. “Climate change refers to long-term fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, wind, and other elements of the Earth’s climate system. Natural processes such as solar-irradiance variations, variations in the Earth’s orbital parameters, and volcanic activity can produce variations in climate. The climate system can also be influenced by changes in the concentration of various gases in the atmosphere, which affect the Earth’s absorption of radiation23.” Climate Change can be observed by the increasing global mean surface temperatures; they have increased about 0.5°C since the late 19th century. 1998 was the warmest year on record30 and in the last 15 years of the 20th century the 10 warmest years occurred.31 “There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities32.” Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in turn are likely to further accelerate the rate of climate change. Average global surface temperature could rise 0.6-2.5°C by 2050, and 1.4-5.8°C in the next century.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1: Combined global land and marine surface temperatures (°C) from 1856 to 2002 including smoothened values (red curve).33

Effects of Climate Change

Specific effects of climate change can not be predicted as temperature increase as well as their effect is prone to significant regional variations. Generally spoken, the impacts of an increase in average temperatures will result in changing precipitation patterns and extremes. This can aggravate or cause droughts and floods32. The EPA observes that “The snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere and floating ice in the Arctic Ocean have decreased. Worldwide precipitation over land has increased by about one percent. The frequency of extreme rainfall events has increased throughout much of the United States34.”

Higher ocean temperatures will cause a thermal expansion and melt glaciers and ice sheets. Both result in rising sea levels. The sea level has already risen 10 to 25 cm in the last 100 years31.

The 1995 report of the International Panel on Climate Change projects the sea level to further rise 15 to 95 centimeters by the year 2100. Depending on local shoreline conditions, this will have a big effect on coastal areas and cities, and small flat islands, especially during storms. Erosion of beaches and flooding will cause additional costs to protect coastal communities. Evaporation will increase as the climate warms, which will increase average global precipitation. Soil moisture is likely to decline in many regions, and intense rainstorms are likely to become more frequent34.

Water supply could become a problem in more areas, water quality might decrease and the competition for water is likely to become more severe. Agriculture is also affected as crop yields irrigate. The composition and geographic range of forests will change. Human health consequences like respiratory illness due to a decrease in air quality and weather related mortality are going to increase.

Depending on their ability to handle variation in temperature, vegetation and as a result whole ecosystems are expected to change. Experts fear for the extinction of fragile ecosystems like coral reefs and coastal wetlands (by inundation).

Due to the potential immense and far-reaching effects of global warming, we have to consider it one of the biggest problems we have to face right now. A major goal on the way to mitigate the gravity of climate changes yet to come is to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, caused by the un-sustainable utilization of fossil fuels.

Replacing fossil energy sources with renewable ones will make a big difference, because their CO2 balance is neutral. This means that while they are produced they absorb the same amount of CO2 they later release when they are being combusted.

Actions on emissions are focusing more and more on CO2 reductions. Thus an important criterion to compare the different vehicle and fuel options in chapter III is their overall system efficiency (WTW efficiency), because CO2 emissions are directly proportional to fossil fuel consumption. Finding a sustainable fuel with reasonable production efficiencies and a neutral CO2 fuel cycle balance as well as improving the fuel economy of vehicles has to be the most important effort of fuel providers and car makers in the future. This is not only for the sake of lessening the global warming, but also considering the diminishing fossil fuel resources. The last chapter will also give a brief overview on policy options, like increasing gasoline prices by taxing them, to make people buy more fuel efficient cars or alternative fuels.

2.2 Exploitation of non-renewable resources

The United States has accounted for approximately one-quarter of the world’s petroleum consumption for the last two decades35. This unbalanced use of a finite resource brings about social and economic drawbacks in the present and future.

Present social injustice of using fossil fuels start at their production; only very few people in countries where resources are mined for, actually benefit from the riches of their countries. The residents of the oil mining areas often have no rights over the mineral resources and their interests are not represented. Oil production is often by far not meeting environmental and safety requirements of western oilfields. The insufficiently protected environment is the basis of existence of the native population, but people do not get properly compensated for the pollution of their farmlands, rivers and forests.

In Northern Russia oil escapes the old pipelines and contaminates soils, rivers and lakes. Animals and plants are intoxicated by oil and hydrocarbons, people die from cancer. The life expectancy of Komi people living there decreased from 61 to 45 years during the last years36. The formerly fertile Ogoniland in the Niger Delta are polluted by oil production because Nigeria does not have laws protecting the environment. Pollutions of rivers, farmland and forest (hunting grounds) with hydrocarbons and the contamination of the ground water with toxic substances from unsecured landfills deprives the Ogoni people of the basis of their very existence.

Uncontrolled flaring of natural gas destroys the biota, causes acid rain and pollution with soot. Doctors have found an unusually high incidence of asthma, bronchitis, and skin and breathing problems in communities in oil-producing areas. The World Bank estimates that gas flaring in the Niger Delta releases some 35 million tons of carbon dioxide annually into the air. Sales of oil account for more than 90 per cent of Nigeria's total foreign-exchange earnings37 and it produces 2.26 million barrels of crude oil per day38. However, the OPEC member exports most of its oil for foreign currency, hardly owns any refineries and depends on gasoline imports. An inherent gasoline shortage and a mismanaged economy shaken by depression, resulting in destitute life conditions make people take the high risks of stealing oil and gasoline from leaking pipelines. Exploding pipelines and devastating fires kill hundreds of people that try to improve their living conditions by siphoning oil from the leaks or simply live in dangerous proximity to the leaking pipelines. In October 1998 1000 people died in a pipeline blast in July 2000 300 were killed in a pipeline explosion. Most people do not profit from the oil business money but are exploited as cheap labor for the dangerous work on the oil fields and live under very poor conditions. Civil unrest amongst politically oppressed people trying to secure their livelihood and get compensation for the exploitation of the resources of their land is the result. Hundreds of people have been killed or driven from their Niger Delta homelands in fights for the power that comes with the exploitation of the resource. Human Rights Watch Africa talks about violations of civil and political rights that “have been committed principally in response to protests about the activities of the multinational companies that produce Nigeria's oil and the use made of the oil revenue by the Nigerian government.”39

Another injustice with the use of fossil fuel is that the price of petrol and diesel at the filling station pump is not reflecting the true environmental costs of oil. The Victoria Transport Policy Institute (VTPI) broke down the costs of operating a vehicle into 20 transport cost categories, the internal and external costs of transportation. External costs that are not accounted for in regular calculations are for example congestion costs, land value, traffic services, air and water pollution costs, noise costs, external costs of resource (petroleum) consumption. The external costs add up to $0.33 per mile. Internal costs are $0.68 per mile. At 2300 billion miles of travel this adds up to $2328 billion which equals 40% of the US GNP40.

Future injustice is done to the generations to-come, that we deprive of the same chances we have, by using up non-renewable resources leave them pollution and depleted resources. Fossil Energy Carriers represent valuable resources for Chemical and Pharmaceutical processes, which can not be replenished within a human life span if wasted as fuels. The consumption of resources and production of waste means an irreversible depreciation of nature through economic processes (Entropy).

Termination of oil reserves

IEA estimates that oil production from known reserves that are economically exploitable today will be capable of increasing no further beyond 2015, leaving demand to be covered by new and, in some cases, as yet unknown unconventional sources41.

World total crude oil reserves were estimated to be between 1032 and 1018 billion barrels.

50-54 billion barrels lie in North America, mostly Mexico and the US. Numbers for Central and South America vary between 96 and 69 billion barrels with Venezuela (with 73 to 81% of SA oil) being by far the oil richest. Western Europe only possesses 17 million barrels, Norway and the UK being the main shareholders. Most Eastern Europe & Former U.D.S.S.R. oil reserves are found in Russia: around 50 of 58 to 67 billion barrels. Africa’s 77 to 95 billion barrels are found mainly in Nigeria and Libya. China possesses more than half of Asia & Oceania’s 44 to 57 billion barrels. However, the 663 to 686 billion barrel rest of the world crude oil reserves lay in the Middle East:

The Iraq is thought to have about 114 billion barrels, Saudi Arabia 98,42 the United Arab Emirates 63 to 98 and Iran 90 to 9943.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2: Crude Oil Reserves in Billion Barrel, January 200244

According to EIA numbers for 2001, 13.16 million barrels of petroleum per day are used for transportation in the US45. That equals two-thirds of the 20 million barrels of the total daily US oil consumption46 or the all-time high of 164.8% of the domestic oil production47 (the US has to import more than 50% of its petroleum needs). This again shows the top priority of finding a renewable energy source especially for the transportation sector.

2.3 Economic dependence on finite resources

Industrialization was made possible by the use of fossil fuels but it also led to a lack of energy diversity and made the resulting economy and society heavily dependant on the utilization of fossil fuels, mainly for transportation and power production.

Amongst those fossil fuels, oil is the most important resource for global economy. Problems with that indispensable resource arise, as it is unevenly distributed on earth. The big oil reserves concentrate in a few countries48.

The demand for oil it is irregularly spread as well, depending on the degree of industrialization and amount of people living in a country. The 2002 average daily demand in the US was 19.66 million barrels; the total world demand was 77.43 million barrels. This means the US is responsible for more than 25% of the world’s oil demand. But it only produces 9.08 million barrels49 or 17% of the total world production, thus the deficit of more than 10 million barrels of oil a day, which is more than 50% of its demand, has to be imported50. US oil imports are expected to grow to 68 percent by 202554. 1999 per capita oil consumption in the US and Canada amounts to almost 3 gallons per day whereas the world average is just above 0.5 gallons51. But fast growing economies especially in Asia will catch up speedily and increase the total world oil demand to 99 million barrels per day by 201552.

Control of the Oil Market

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is the single largest entity impacting the world's oil supplies. It is a consortium of 11 countries that account for 40 percent of the world's oil production and 77 percent of the world's oil reserves: Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela52.

OPEC can control crude oil prices by raising or reducing its own production and adjusting it to the production of Non-OPEC countries. Short supply of crude oil, but also the sheer possibility of future reductions makes gasoline prices jump.

The oil production of non-OPEC countries like the United States, Mexico, Canada, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Russia and China is expected to rise by 1.4 million barrels per day over the next two years51. However, their resources are not so extensive and easily accessible as some of the big Middle Eastern oil producers (compare above). As a result the price of the produced oil is higher and the depletion rate increases which only marginally improves dependence of OPEC and just defers the problems into the future.

Non-OPEC countries produced 62% of the world's oil in 2002 but 86% of Non-OPEC countries are net oil importers53.

US Domestic Oil Supplies are decreasing Domestic production concentrates in the Gulf of Mexico, Texas and Louisiana onshore, Alaska, California, Oklahoma and Wyoming54.

The United States had 22.4 billion barrels of proved oil reserves as of January 1, 2003, twelfth highest in the world. But those oil reserves have declined by around 20% since 199054.

Control of the major oil production by OPEC and unstable governments with questionable interests of some of the major oil exporting countries - especially in the Middle East - make the petroleum market unstable and unpredictable55. Security concerns, that are the result of centralized energy markets, will further increase the costs of energy and fuels. Therefore forecast of petroleum prices, production and imports not only depend on various different forecast of termination of oil reserves (see above) and economic growth of developing countries, but are also impeded by unknown future world policy conditions.

This leaves the world economy in a very vulnerable position. Shortages and eventual depletion of those finite resources will cause long-term, irreversible effects on energy markets.

Dependence results from a lack of diversity. For oil this is true in two respects: The biggest crude oil reserves concentrate in very few countries. That makes countries like the US that need to import more than 50% of its consumption depend heavily on those countries. Monopolies like the OPEC can form and pressure those countries by controlling the oil market. The other aspect is that oil can not be replaced quickly with another energy source yet. Especially transportation relies nearly 100% on mineral oil.

The 1973 OPEC oil embargo, that crippled the world economy, revealed the potentially devastating effects of this dependence.

National responses to mitigate this economic vulnerability have been the creation of storage buffers (1975 the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was formed56 ), improved and intensified petroleum exploration and development, petroleum conservation and interfuel substitution, but also the expanded production and use of new energy sources57.

Strong dependency of the whole US economy on fossil fuels, the need to import a great share of petroleum from foreign often politically instable countries and the finiteness of oil resources cause a dilemma for current and future US energy supply. The only true way out of this dilemma is by reducing economic dependency on oil. Sustainability has to be a major goal for future energy policy, promoting an economic development that gives people equal chances. Fossil fuels take centuries to develop, that is why they are considered non-renewable energy resources. Hydrogen produced by water electrolysis from green power is a sustainable way of obtaining a non-polluting fuel that can be produced nearly anywhere.

It has extensive potential in terms of expected environmental benefits and implementation. The following chapters will show pathways to make it tomorrow’s fuel.

3. Facts about California

The following chapter explains why California is most likely to take a leading role in the implementation of alternative technologies within the US but also worldwide: It has the economic and law-making potential and environmental pressure necessary to be a precursor for alternative and innovative technology.

California will suffer from the effects of local air pollution and global warming just like the rest of the nation and the world (compare 1.1c). On top of that its vast amount of coastline makes California particularly vulnerable to a rise in sea level and storms that are expected to come along with global warming.58

Climate Change would lead to further shoreline erosion and threatens property. Drinking water supplies are in danger of getting contaminated by saltwater intrusion and generally are expected to shrink due to reduced snow pack in the mountains. The University of Santa Cruz59 judges the impacts on the water storage system as enormous: Less precipitation falling as snow and more as rain, plus higher temperatures creating increased demand for water. Higher temperatures will further increase power consumption for air conditioning and thus cause more pollution and smog58.

Warm temperatures and a lot of sunshine, combined with high fossil fuel combustion, especially for traffic, give the “golden state” a big air quality problem. Los Angeles has a reputation for its smog problems but the Central Valley is one of the worst smog belts in the country. Nine out of America's top ten of the most ozone-polluted counties are in California. The State of the Air 2003 report of the American Lung Association gave 28 of California's 58 counties failing marks for air quality60. Currently, California's 22 million automobiles consume more than 13 billion gallons of gasoline, making California the third largest consumer of gasoline in the world after the United States as a whole and the former Soviet Union. Half of the state's energy consumption results from transportation61.

In 2000 California's annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reached 280 billion miles. Even though this means a 40 billion miles per year increase since 1990, in the same amount of time California vehicle emissions for nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons sank by about 200,000 tons per year62. California's economy is the sixth largest worldwide. Yet an uncompromising energy conservation policy results in per capita contributions of carbon dioxide emissions about 40% lower than the US average58. Obvious air quality problems (see above) along with a general awareness of environmental problems have made California take a leading role in alternative technologies and legislation. From 1981 to 1985, a combination of tax credits, long-term power purchase contracts and state technical assistance jumpstarted the wind, solar, geothermal and biomass power industries63.

California is home to various organizations, continuously promoting the use of alternative energies in transportation and power production. The California Air Resource Board64, a part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP), and the California Energy Commission (CEC), just to name a few. Since California represents 13 percent of the nation's auto market, decisions made by those organizations will affect the national economy.

In 1990 the California Air Resources Board adopted the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program as an integral part of California's Low Emission Vehicle program, intended to secure increasing air quality benefits for California over the long term65.

The ARB is authorized by Assembly Bill 1493 to develop and adopt regulations “to achieve the maximum feasible and cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gases from California's motor vehicles”66

The original ZEV program of 1990 required 10 percent of passenger vehicles and light duty trucks sold in California to be zero-emission or electric by 2003.

This requirement was slashed at least three times, to finally 2 percent. In April 2003 the program was revised completely and now requires car companies to make 250 fuel cell vehicles by 2008; 2,500 by 2011; and 25,000 by 2014. It also requires 420,000 hybrid cars and 3.4 million ‘partially zero emission vehicles’ by 201067.

In the 1980 policies and tax credits made California home to 90 percent of the world’s wind power. 1,700 MW have been on-line since but over the last decade this share has slipped to just 10 percent63. During the decade of the 1990s, California had one of the world's most diverse resource mixes for electricity generation. In 1999, about 32.3 percent of the state's electricity production was produced by renewable sources68. This number decreased to 23 percent69 in 2002. 1300 MW of new renewable power supply has been authorized between 2000 and 2002 with $241 million in state financial incentives provided. However, only 201 MW actually came into operation and most of it were upgrades to existing wind farms. In 2001 the US wind power industry had its best year so far, installing 1695 MW of new wind power capacity in 16 different states but only 69 MW in California70.

The reason why investments in renewable power plants slowed down significantly was a change in policy. Because the federal and state tax credits were found to be abused, they were terminated in 1986. An even worse effect on the construction of new renewable and non-renewable power plant projects was the deregulation of the electricity market in 1997. With the downfall of the state’s power monopoly, competencies became unclear. The state was ruled out as a buyer of long term power purchase contracts. Without those contracts, there is no confidence in the long term market. California is “one of the most difficult power markets to develop wind projects from a financial point of view because of a lack of regulatory stability.” This impeded investments in new power plants, especially those with a high capital binding, so renewable plants were considered too risky despite their low operating costs that make them a profitable long-term investment. Natural gas turbines on the other side have low up-front investments but are subject to supply constraints and rapid, extreme price fluctuation of Natural Gas. Yet during the last two years, all but 2.5 percent 120 MW - of new electricity capacity that came on-line was fuelled by natural gas70.

Addressing this issue Assembly Bill 1203 was introduced in February 2003, amending Section 739.6 of the Public Utilities Code, exempting the Department of Water Resources from being the sole contract partner for the utility providers71.

There is still an immense renewable potential, the DOE State Energy Information for California72 calculates that 20% of the entire state's electricity consumption could be met with wind energy. On top of that, California is home to the countries biggest geothermal potential73 and it owns 40 percent of the world's geothermal power plants, 20 percent of the installed wind capacity and 70-80 percent of the world's solar electricity generation74.

In September 2002 Governor Gray Davis signed Senate Bill No. 107875. It mandates the implementation of a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for California76. It requires California’s utility providers to increase their procurement of eligible renewable energy resources by at least 1 percent per year to increase the share of renewable electricity from current 10 percent to 20 percent by 2017. Eligible Renewables means an electric generating facility that "uses biomass, solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, fuel cells using renewable fuels, small hydroelectric generation of 30 megawatts or less, digester gas, municipal solid waste conversion, landfill gas, ocean wave, ocean thermal, or tidal current, and any additions or enhancements to the facility using that technology"77.

Section III will analyze possible renewable power production scenarios for the electrolysis of Hydrogen in California. Legislative issues will be briefly addressed in the recommendations for policy makers in section IV.

II. Technical background

The first chapter in this section compares the different propulsion technologies for vehicles (Combustion Engines and Fuel Cells). The different fuel options for the respective vehicle technologies are presented and compared in chapter 4. Fuel Cells suitable for use in vehicles run on Hydrogen which can be reformed on-board from liquid hydrocarbon fuels like gasoline or methanol, or it can be produced offboard and stored directly in the vehicle in compressed gaseous or liquid form.

4. Fuel Options for Transportation

The only way to satisfy the strong demand of today’s society to keep mobility at the present level and on the same time reduce the carbon dioxide emission is to give up the combustion fuels in use today78. Besides the tremendous environmental benefits (compare with the disadvantages of conventional fuels mentioned above), a transition to alternative fuels promises a variety of benefits. Some of these are reduced oil imports, increased energy diversity (compare to Figure 3: Simplified diagram of primary energy sources and production of fuels ), lower crude oil costs, the chance for correctly (fair) allocated environmental costs, and possibly even increased consumer satisfaction due to the availability of new fuels and vehicles79.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 3: Simplified diagram of primary energy sources and production of fuels80 81

Table 1: Fuel properties82 83

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


1 A discharge is essentially a spill that reaches a navigable water or adjoining shoreline. The legal definition can be found in 40 CFR 112.2(b)

2 Greenpeace Information of 1998;

3 Greenpeace archive: “Black Ice, The behaviour of multinational oil companies in Russia”

4 GREET data for Global Warming Potential (N2O has 310 times the GWP of CO2)

5 University of Alaska Fairbanks (1999)

6 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

7 Canadian Renewable Fuels Association:; US EPA: and; California Energy Commission:

8 Davis, S., Transportation Energy Data Book (2002), p. 1-16, Table 1.12

9 Davis, S., Transportation Energy Data Book, p.6-5

10 EPA:

11 EPA: Further sources: for a list of hazardous air toxics, defined by the 1990 amendments of the Clean Air Act; for a list of fact sheets about the health effects.

12 EPA: EPA:

14 Statistical Yearbook (2002), p.354f.

15 EPA:

16 EPA:

17 EPA:

18 24.4 mpg according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

19 IPCC:; EPA: 550d4b46b29f68a6852568660081f938/Climate.html?OpenDocument;

20 EPA on Global Warming:

21 Over a 100-year time horizon.

22 GHGs in 1998 CO2 equivalents, EIA:

23 EPA:

24 Weighted global warming potential, EIA:

25 Own calculation: fuel properties of gasoline: 85-88 wt% Carbon, 1 gal weights 6.2 lbs. 1g CO2 = 12/44g C

26 Davis, S., Transportation Energy Data Book (2002), p.6-5

27 California Energy Commission (2001), Greenhouse Gas Inventory Update.

28 In CO2 equivalents. California Energy Commission (2001), Greenhouse Gas Inventory Update.

29 EPA:

30 2000 data.

31 IPCC: The Science of Climate Change,

32 EPA:

33 Climatic Research Unit, UK:

34 EPA: 550d4b46b29f68a6852568660081f938/Climate.html?OpenDocument

35 Davis, S., Transportation Energy Data Book (2002), p.1-5

36 Information of 2000:

37 United Nations, Africa Recovery, Department of Public Information:

38 EIA data for 1980-2001:

39 Human Rights Watch (1999), THE PRICE OF OIL; Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights Violations in Nigeria’s Oil Producing Communities;

40 Litman, T. (2002): Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis,

41 EIA:

42 Mean values of EIA data, comprising of estimates from PennWell Publishing Co., Oil & Gas Journal, Vol. 99, No. 52 (2001) versus estimates from Gulf Publishing Co., World Oil, Vol. 223, No. 8 (2002)

43 EIA: World Crude Oil and Natural Gas Reserves (2002):

44 World Total: 1032 billion barrels

45 EIA:

46 DOE:

47 Davis, S., Transportation Energy Data Book (2002), p. 1-16,Table 1.12

48 Compare above.

49 Per day in 2002.

50 EIA:

51 EIA: _image_Cons_per_cap.htm#Consumption%20of%20Oil%20Per%20Capita

52 EIA (1996):

53 EIA, Non-OPEC fact sheet

54 EIA, Country Analysis Brief United States (2003):

55 Sperling, D., New Transportation Fuels (1988), p. 29

56 As of may 2003 some 600 million barrels of domestic oil is stored in underground salt caverns along the Gulf of Mexico coastline. This is the largest emergency oil stockpile in the world. If oil imports would go down dramatically, it could provide up to 4.3 million bbl/d for 90 days; EIA US data (2003):

57 Sperling, D., New Transportation Fuels (1988), p.17

58 The California Climate Action Registry:

59 Univerity of Santa Cruz:

60 American Lung Association, State of the Air (2003):

61 CEC: 2002 California Energy facts

62 CARB:] California Air Quality History (2000)

63 Asmus, P. (2002): How California is losing its clean power edge;

64 CARB:

65 CARB:

66 CARB:

67 CARB:

68 CEC (2002):

69 This number includes large hydroelectric plants; EIA, Annual Energy Outlook (2003).

70 Asmus, P. (2002): How California is losing its clean power edge;

71 Assembly Bill 1203 was introduced by Assembly Member Haynes on February 21, 2003 and amended by the Assembly in April 10, 2003;

72 DOE:

73 Harvey, H. (2001): California and the Energy Crisis; Energy Foundation; p.3

74 CEC: 2002 California Energy facts

75 CEC:

76 CEC:

77 SB 1078 Section 383.5.

78 Wacker, H. (1998): Resourcenökonomik, p. 45

79 DeCicco (1997): Transportation, Energy, and Envrionment, p. 11f

80 Highlighted fuel production pathways will be used in section III

81 Pehnt, M.; Nitsch, J (2000): Ökobilanzen und Markteintritt von Brennstoffzellen im mobilen Einsatz, p.5.

82 AFDC Fueltable;

83 CNG: Compressed Natural Gas

Excerpt out of 174 pages


Pathways for a Transition to a Sustainable Hydrogen Transportation Fuel Infrastructure in California
University Karlsruhe (TH)  (IWW)
1.0 (A)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
2549 KB
Pathways, Transition, Sustainable, Hydrogen, Transportation, Fuel, Infrastructure, California
Quote paper
Marlene Hilkert (Author), 2003, Pathways for a Transition to a Sustainable Hydrogen Transportation Fuel Infrastructure in California, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Pathways for a Transition to a Sustainable Hydrogen Transportation Fuel Infrastructure in California

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free