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Market Drivers

Market drivers are usually market sector-specific. Hydrogen's versatility therefore results in a number of factors that affect the availability of a market for it. These include:

Costs

The costs of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (HFCEVs), for example, are determined by their automotive fuel cell systems i.e. the onboard storage tanks, the fuel cell stack itself, the electric drive motor, etc.

Although the costs of fuel cells have come down significantly over the past decade, how they compare against other competing technologies such as Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) is a critical market driver.

If BEVs work well at low costs then end-users will tend to buy these vehicles and there will be little incentive to make a transition to hydrogen powered vehicles.

How quickly technology matures

In addition to the costs is the issue of how quickly technology matures in proportion to consumers' needs. There are uncertainties here which are based around how consumers will respond to new technology.

This asks important questions of whether vehicle users will accept low range vehicles (in the case of hydrogen vehicles) and when these vehicle owners will charge their vehicles (in the case of electric vehicles).

Competing alternative energy systems and greenhouse gases

Another even more critical factor that drives the market for hydrogen as a transport fuel is the amount of greenhouse gas reduction achievable with hydrogen as opposed to other low emissions fuel options e.g. bio-fuels.

As a transport fuel, bio-fuels have the potential to be the most cost-effective, low carbon option to conventional transport fuels simply because they are easy to produce and use, and may not require a radical infrastructure overhaul.

However, despite their massive potential, sources of bio-fuels are surrounded by controversy. One of which is around issues of land conversion (unless sourced from waste) which ignites the food vs. fuel debate. Some opponents to their use believe land-use schemes - schemes that specifically set out land for growing energy feed crops - potentially transform high carbon emission eco-systems to low carbon emission systems, resulting in net emissions of carbon dioxide from bio-fuels when evaluated on a 'field to wheel' basis.

Research evidence to prove otherwise will have a big impact negatively on the role hydrogen plays as a zero emission transport fuel in the near future.


Hydrogen in the Gas Industry

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