Hydrogen's Expanding Role in the Energy System

Mark Ruth, Bryan Pivovar, Joshua Eichman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Realizing the vision of H2@Scale will require research and investment in efficient hydrogen production methods and upgraded infrastructure. Advances in hydrogen production will allow new applications, such as steelmaking, biofuels production, and fuel cell electric vehicles, to thrive. H2@Scale is a U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) initiative that brings together stakeholders to advance affordable hydrogen production, transport, storage, and utilization in multiple energy sectors. H2@Scale will improve the resiliency and reliability of the energy supply chain, increase the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing, create jobs, and reduce emissions, thereby improving environmental sustainability. Hydrogen has a unique ability to transfer energy across time and economic sectors. The electric grid was designed so that the generated load varies with changes in demand. However, wind and solar power technologies can only generate electricity when each resource is available, making it more difficult to balance the grid. Because hydrogen production can be a large-scale controllable load, it can help address that challenge. Hydrogen can serve as a clean feedstock for diverse applications within the transportation, process industries, and energy sectors. This article describes hydrogen production, application, and infrastructure opportunities. The first part of the article discusses hydrogen production and describes current costs and potential cost reductions that could be enabled by research and development (R&D). The second section discusses key applications that take advantage of hydrogen's chemical properties and its potential as an energy carrier. The final section of the article describes the current hydrogen infrastructure and how it must grow to meet the H2@Scale vision.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalChemical Engineering Progress
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-73511


  • electrolysis
  • H2@Scale
  • hydrogen
  • infrastructure
  • steelmaking


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