WP12B Material Flow Accounting, Substance Flow Analysis and Input-Output Analysis Studies
1:20 PM - 4:40 PM, Wednesday

() A Framework to Assess the Environmental Impacts of Transitioning to the Hydrogen Economy.

Gloria, Thomas1, Levine, Stephen2, 1 ICF Consulting, Lexington, MA, USA2 Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA

ABSTRACT- The transition to a hydrogen based economy has already begun. On April 20th, 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger signed an executive order creating a public and private partnership to build a statewide "hydrogen highway" by 2010. The Hydrogen Highway Network initiative aims to accelerate the transition to a hydrogen transportation economy in California by installing up to 200 hydrogen fuel pumps within the next six years servicing up to 500,000 fuel cell vehicles. Despite the Schwarzeneggeresk optimism, the transition from the present hydro-carbon economy to the future hydro-gen economy will likely take decades. The change in the underlying infrastructure will be enormous as equipment specialized for the production, delivery and storage of hydrogen-carbon fuels are phased out, while the new infrastructure, decoupled from carbon is phased in. This transition period will be a mixed economy, marked by the simultaneous construction and retirement of two functionally equivalent infrastructures. The authors present a framework to comprehensively assess the environmental repercussions of this transition. Key elements of this framework are three-fold. First, the framework is based on an economic interindustry approach. Transportation is a keystone industrial activity - activities of energy production, delivery, storage, and consumption of fuels for transportation services are deeply connected to virtually all economic activity. Second, a critical departure from the traditional static input-output analysis is the careful consideration of time dependence. The chronology of activities are important. Research, development and refinement of key technologies such as on-board vehicle hydrogen storage, economically viable production of hydrogen and affordable fuel cells will take time. Third, the framework incorporates capabilities to assess a range of environmental and human health impacts from a prospective life cycle perspective. These include the state-of-the-practice impact assessment methods of stratospheric ozone depletion, global warming potential, human health effects, acidification potential, eutrophication potential, smog formation, and ecological toxicity.

Key words: Input-Output Analysis, Sequential Interindustry Modeling, Hydrogen Economy, Fossil Fuels

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