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Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies — A Focus on Hydrogen
unavailable. In the longer term (after 2025), co-generation of low-carbon hydrogen and electricity in gasification-based energy plants may be an option.
The main advantage of a transition to HFCVs is the potential for reducing the use of oil and emissions of CO2. Although hydrogen could not replace much gasoline before 2025, the 25 years after that would see a dramatic decline in the use of gasoline in the light-duty vehicle fleet to about one-third of current projections, if the assumptions of the maximum practical case are met. Emissions of CO2 will decline almost as much if hydrogen is produced with carbon capture and sequestration or from nonfossil sources.
The committee also found that alternatives such as improved fuel economy for conventional vehicles, increased penetration of hybrid vehicles, and biomass-derived fuels could deliver significantly greater reductions in U.S. oil use and CO2 emissions than could use of HFCVs over the next two decades, but that the longer-term benefits of such approaches were likely to grow at a smaller rate thereafter, even with continued technological improvements, whereas hydrogen offers greater longer-term potential. Thus, as estimated by the committee, the greatest benefits will come from a portfolio of R&D technologies that would allow the United States to achieve deep reductions in oil use, nearly 100 percent by 2050 for the light-duty vehicle fleet. Achieving this goal, however, will require significant new energy security and environmental policy actions in addition to technological developments. Although broad policies aimed at reducing oil use and CO2 emissions will be useful, they are unlikely to be adequate to facilitate the rapid introduction of HFCVs. A competitive and self-sustaining HFCV fleet is possible in the long term but will require hydrogen-specific policies in the nearer term. These policies must be substantial and durable in order to assure industry that the necessary long-term investments can be made safely.