Revisiting the role of steam methane reforming with CO2 capture and storage for long-term hydrogen production

Sci Total Environ. 2021 Jun 1;771:145432. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145432. Epub 2021 Jan 28.


Road transport is associated with high greenhouse gas emissions due to its current dependence on fossil fuels. In this regard, the implementation of alternative fuels such as hydrogen is expected to play a key role in decarbonising the transport system. Nevertheless, attention should be paid to the suitability of hydrogen production pathways as low-carbon solutions. In this work, an energy systems optimisation model for the prospective assessment of a national hydrogen production mix was upgraded in order to unveil the potential role of grey hydrogen from steam methane reforming (SMR) and blue hydrogen from SMR with CO2 capture and storage (CCS) in satisfying the hydrogen demanded by fuel cell electric vehicles in Spain from 2020 to 2050. This was done by including CCS retrofit of SMR plants in the energy systems model, as a potential strategy within the scope of the European Hydrogen Strategy. Considering three hypothetical years for banning hydrogen from fossil-based plants without CCS (2030, 2035, and 2040), it was found that SMR could satisfy the whole demand for hydrogen for road transport in the short term (2020-2030), while being substituted by water electrolysis in the medium-to-long term (2030-2050). Furthermore, this trend was found to be associated with an appropriate prospective behaviour in terms of carbon footprint.

Keywords: Blue hydrogen; Carbon footprint; Electrolysis; Energy systems modelling; Road transport; Steam methane reforming.