FIGURE 6-13 Estimated gasoline use reductions compared with natural gas (NG) use increases: possible future hydrogen production technologies, 2010–2050. See Table 5-2 in Chapter 5.


In addition to impacts on natural gas, the committee has estimated impacts on several other domestic resources. Coal-based hydrogen generation would require increased U.S. production of coal. Biomass-based hydrogen production would require the use of land. The sequestration of CO2 would require infrastructure for sequestration as well as domestic resources into which the sequestered CO2 could be prominently placed. The committee summarizes here some of the most important of these impacts on such domestic resources. It continues to maintain the discussion about pure options in which all of the hydrogen is produced from a given feedstock. The reader should be reminded that, more realistically, if the challenges of hydrogen are mastered, the transition will not be to such a pure system but rather to a system in which many different supply chains are used to provide the hydrogen.

Hydrogen generation using only coal as a feedstock could be expected to significantly increase the use of coal in the United States. Figure 6-14 provides those estimates for both current and possible future technologies that use coal as a feedstock, either with or without CO2 sequestration. The figure puts these estimates in perspective by including the EIA forecast of U.S. consumption and production of coal.9

Figure 6-14 shows that, by 2050, hydrogen production could use between 13 quadrillion and 15 quadrillion Btu per year of coal, with slightly smaller quantities for possible future technologies and slightly larger quantities for technologies involving CO2 sequestration. The figure shows that, at least through 2035, the use of coal for hydrogen production can be expected to be a relatively small fraction of total coal production. However, by 2050, if hydrogen were generated exclusively using coal-based technologies, its use for hydrogen production would be a substantial portion of the industry.

Technologies that use biomass as a feedstock require substantial acreage in order to grow the biomass. In the models developed for the study, it is assumed that under current technology conditions, 4.0 tons of bone-dry biomass can be grown per year for each acre of land and that each ton of biomass has an energy content of 16 million Btu. Under possible future technology conditions, it is assumed that the growing of a biomass becomes more productive, so that 6.0


Figure 6-14 shows the EIA projection that domestic production and consumption of coal will remain equal to one another, so there will be no net imports of coal.

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