Hydrogen is a promising energy carrier in the clean energy systems currently being developed. However, its effectiveness in mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions requires conducting a lifecycle analysis of the process by which hydrogen is produced and supplied. This study focuses on the hydrogen for the transport sector, in particular renewable hydrogen that is produced from wind-or solar PV-powered electrolysis. A life cycle inventory analysis is conducted to evaluate the Well-to-Tank (WtT) GHG emissions from various renewable hydrogen supply chains. The stages of the supply chains include hydrogen being produced overseas, converted into a transportable hydrogen carrier (liquid hydrogen or methylcyclohexane), imported to Japan by sea, distributed to hydrogen filling stations, restored from the hydrogen carrier to hydrogen and filled into fuel cell vehicles. For comparison, an analysis is also carried out with hydrogen produced by steam reforming of natural gas. Foreground data related to the hydrogen supply chains are collected by literature surveys and the Japanese life cycle inventory database is used as the background data. The analysis results indicate that some of renewable hydrogen supply chains using liquid hydrogen exhibited significantly lower WtT GHG emissions than those of a supply chain of hydrogen produced by reforming of natural gas. A significant piece of the work is to consider the impacts of variations in the energy and material inputs by performing a probabilistic uncertainty analysis. This suggests that the production of renewable hydrogen, its liquefaction, the dehydrogenation of methylcyclohexane and the compression of hydrogen at the filling station are the GHG-intensive stages in the target supply chains.
Ozawa, A., Inoue, M., Kitagawa, N., Muramatsu, R., Anzai, Y., Genchi, Y., & Kudoh, Y. (2017). Assessing Uncertainties of Well-To-Tank Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Hydrogen Supply Chains. Sustainability, 9(7), 1101. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9071101