Decarbonization of the energy system is a key goal of the Paris Agreements, in order to limit temperature rises to under 2° Celsius. Hydrogen has the potential to play a key role through its versatile production methods, end uses and as a storage medium for renewable energy, engendering the future low-carbon energy system. This research uses a global model cognizant of energy policy, technology learning curves and international carbon reduction targets to optimize the future energy system in terms of cost and carbon emissions to the year 2050. Exploring combinations of four exploratory scenarios incorporating hydrogen city gas blend levels, nuclear restrictions, regional emission reduction obligations and carbon capture and storage deployment timelines, it was identified that hydrogen has the potential to supply approximately two percent of global energy needs by 2050. Irrespective of the quantity of hydrogen produced, the transport sector and passenger fuel cell vehicles are consistently a preferential end use for future hydrogen across regions and modeled scenarios. In addition to the potential contribution of hydrogen, a shift toward renewable energy and a significant role for carbon capture and storage is identified to underpin carbon target achievement by 2050.
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