Halving the costs of hydrogen applications expected by 2030

For a long time, hydrogen applications were considered too expensive. However, a study by the Hydrogen Council shows that one of the central obstacles to investment – the high production and development costs of the H2 value chain – will largely disappear by 2030 thanks to the scaling of hydrogen production and distribution and the economies of scale in hydrogen applications. Similarly, in its National Hydrogen Strategy, the German government plans to build a strong and sustainable domestic hydrogen industry and intends to promote the production and use of H2 to this end. The expected cost degression will give new impetus to the discussion on hydrogen applications as a promising way to achieve CO2-neutral mobility.

In order to achieve the Paris CO2 targets, alternatives to the fossil energy sources currently still in use, such as oil, natural gas and lignite, are urgently needed. Hydrogen, with its diverse potentials and possible applications, should play a central role in implementing the change in energy policy and decarbonization in the industrial sector.

As a company that is open to new technologies, IAV has been working on hydrogen-based drive and energy systems, e.g. fuel cell drives, for many years now, and also makes use of its profound knowledge of conventional and hybrid drive systems.

While the electrification of fleets is pro­gressing across the industry and is set to reach a significant market volume in a few years’ time, the ramp-up for H&2 technologies is expected to take place in 2030 according to the Hydrogen Council’s “Path to Hydrogen Competitiveness” study and the assumptions made by the German government.

Market ramp-up requires investments of $70 billion

Hydrogen is the energy carrier of the future, can be used as a potentially CO2-neutral fuel, as well as to generate electricity generate electricity and heat and can also be used as a raw material in industry. With its National Hydrogen Strategy, which was adopted in June, the German government wants to push ahead with the achievement of the climate targets and profit from the expected growth market with H2 technologies. It is aiming for a strong domestic market: Germany should become the world’s number one in hydrogen technologies.

This market with H2 technologies could take shape in the coming years. The Hydrogen Council estimates that due to growing investment in the production, transport and use of hydrogen, the costs of many H2 applications could fall by up to 50 percent by 2030.

In order to promote the market ramp-up and to build up electrolysis capacities, filling station and pipeline networks, investments of $70 billion are necessary in the world’s largest automotive markets by 2030, according to the study, which evaluated value chains in China, the USA, Europe and Japan/Korea. According to the Hydrogen Council, this sum is considerable, but amounts to less than five percent of annual global energy investments. As part of the National Hydrogen Strategy, the German government has announced funds of nine billion euros to boost the domestic hydrogen economy.

Improved market opportunities for H2-powered commercial vehicles and buses

“So far, costs have been an obstacle to development in the manufacture of fuel-cell-powered vehicles”, says Ralf Wascheck, Head of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Mobility department at IAV. “The results are good news for H2 applications as such and for technology-open companies like IAV.”


According to the Hydrogen Council, long-distance freight transport in particular is suitable for the use of H2 and fuel cell technology. It enables long ranges, fast refueling and, thus, high availability combined with high system efficiency, which is significantly higher than that of combustion engines. According to the study, H2-powered heavy-duty vans and buses will be as competitive as their counterparts with combustion engines as a result of the expected decline in their operating costs by 2030.

IAV has a wealth of expertise in the field of hydrogen:

  • Development of fuel cell vehicles and necessary infrastructure
  • Hydrogen-powered combustion enginesBasis for customer-focused development services and consulting along the entire H2 value chain
  • Basis for customer-focused development services and consulting along the entire H2 value chain
  • Ultra-modern methods, test capacities for fuel cell development
  • Designing the control system and process engineering of electrolyzers for different applications (after development of an electrolysis system by IAV)
  • Conclusion: With an understanding of the entire value chain (energy production – electrolysis – use in H<sub>2</sub> drives), IAV can develop economically and technically optimal solutions for customers.

The article was published in automotion 02/2020, the automotive engineering magazine of IAV. Here you can order the automotion free of charge.

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