While the previous chapter addressed the build-up of a hydrogen infrastructure in Europe, this chapter focuses on implementing a hydrogen infrastructure in the USA, where, over the last decade, the vision of hydrogen as a future transportation fuel has gained remarkable momentum.
Introduction – transportation-energy context in the USA
A large part of primary energy use, greenhouse-gas emissions and air pollution in the United States comes from direct combustion of fuels for transportation and heating. Reducing emissions and energy use from this multitude of dispersed sources (250 million vehicles and perhaps 100 million households and businesses) will mean replacing today's cars and heating systems with higher efficiency, low-emission models, and, ultimately, adopting new fuels that can be produced cleanly and efficiently from diverse sources. This is particularly crucial for transportation, where the number of light-duty passenger vehicles could grow 50% by 2050, and where 97% of fuel comes from petroleum, 60% of which is imported into the United States.
A variety of alternative fuels, including LPG, CNG, ethanol, methanol, as well as electricity, have been implemented on a small scale in the USA, but with limited success – the total number of alternative fuelled vehicles remains less than 1% of the total fleet (Davis and Diegel, 2007). The largest alternative fuel used in the USA is ethanol derived from corn, which is currently blended with gasoline up to 10% by volume in some regions, and accounts for 3% of US transportation energy use.