Lifecycle Emissions Assessment of Future Hydrogen Vehicles in California

Research Team: Timothy Lipman (lead), Arpad Horvath, Alissa Kendall, Lewis Fulton, Daniel Coffee, Stephanie Collins, and Pablo Busch

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA

Problem Statement: California policymakers are confronting a series of questions about the costs and benefits of using hydrogen fuel for transportation. To date, most of the vehicle electrification momentum has centered on battery-powered vehicles. While hydrogen is still considered an important option for the light-duty vehicle market, it is also emerging as a promising fuel option in the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sectors, including buses, trucks, and goods delivery vehicles, as well as marine port and airport operations. One recurring concern about hydrogen is that its lifecycle emissions can vary widely because it can be produced from a variety of feedstocks. For hydrogen to play a significant role in California’s zero-emission vehicle future, it must be in its cleanest possible form. But how is clean hydrogen or “green hydrogen” defined and measured?

Project Description: This project will support California’s aggressive goals to electrify the transportation sectors and move to a net-zero carbon system by 2045 by helping to define the role of green hydrogen in the transition. The research will directly address key policy maker and hydrogen industry stakeholder questions about the full lifecycle assessment (LCA) of hydrogen fuel use in the transportation sector. Questions include: 1) What are the feedstock and supply-chain availability and constraints for green hydrogen production in the state and nearby region? 2) How is green hydrogen technically defined for California state regulatory and policy purposes? and 3) What are the latest state-of-the-art estimates of the carbon intensity and other environmental LCA considerations around the expected rapid increase in the use of hydrogen in the state across various transportation sectors? The project will use the latest information and modeling tools to analyze, compare and contrast the hydrogen fuel cell and battery-electric pathways to vehicle electrification. In addition to addressing the key LCA and emissions questions, this project will also address the workforce development, jobs training, and job creation aspects of the transition to California’s zero-emission transportation future.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $135,000