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Well-to-Wheel Analysis of Solar Hydrogen Production and Utilization for Passenger Car Transportation


A well-to-wheel analysis is conducted for solar hydrogen production,
transport, and usage in future passenger car transportation. Solar
hydrogen production methods and selected conventional production
technologies are examined using a life cycle assessment. Utilization of
hydrogen in fuel cells is compared with advanced gasoline and diesel
powertrains. Solar scenarios show distinctly lower greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions than fossil-based scenarios. For example, using solar hydrogen
in fuel cell cars reduces life cycle GHG emissions by 70% compared to
advanced fossil fuel powertrains and by more than 90% if car and road
infrastructure are not considered. Solar hydrogen production allows a
reduction of fossil energy requirements by a factor of up to 10 compared
to using conventional technologies. Major environmental impacts are
associated with the construction of the steel-intensive infrastructure
for solar energy collection due to mineral and fossil resource
consumption as well as discharge of pollutants related to today’s steel
production technology.