The Challenge of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
Edited by Stefano Pogutz, Angeloantonio Russo and Paolo Migliavacca
Chapter 1: The Role of Hydrogen in Our Energy Future
Giorgio Simbolotti THE GENERAL CONTEXT: GROWING ENERGY PRICES AND CO2 EMISSIONS Fossil fuel prices have been growing continuously from 2001 to 2007 and oil prices soared from $80–$90 per barrel to more than $140 in the first half of 2008. Energy analysts and policymakers wonder whether we are in the middle of the third protracted oil shock, due to lack of production capacity, financial speculation and geopolitical pressure, or whether we are facing a structural, irreversible change in energy markets due to the growing demand from emerging economies. Whatever the reasons, the current outlook neither anticipates nor is grasping for short-term solutions. The major economies could afford oil prices that have risen to $60 to $80 per barrel, but the most recent increase is severely damaging to global growth and development, with inflation and stagnation clear indicators of a weakening economy. At the same time, energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to grow worldwide in spite of the mitigation policies already in place. The average annual increase of CO2 emissions was 1.1 per cent between 1990 and 2000 and reached 2.9 per cent between 2000 and 2005. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) (2008), the ‘business as usual’ CO2 emissions from the energy sector are projected to grow by 130 per cent from 2006 to 2050, with an average annual growth of approximately 1.9 per cent. The growing use of coal in the emerging economies offsets any gains in terms of improved efficiency and reduced emissions coming from...
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