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Hydrogen and the decarbonization of the energy system in Europe in 2050: A detailed model-based analysis


The paper aims to address the potential of low-carbon and renewable hydrogen in decarbonizing the European energy system; specifically, reducing emissions by 55% in 2030 compared to 1990, and targeting net-zero emissions by 2050. The methodology relies on a cost-optimization modelling approach using three models complementarily: a detailed European TIMES-type model (MIRET-EU); an aggregated model for the European energy system, allowing endogenous cost reductions based on technology deployment in a dynamic programming formulation for investment strategies (Integrate Europe); and a dedicated model for assessing hydrogen import options for Europe (HyPE). Two policy-relevant scenarios have been developed: Technology Diversification (TD) and Renewable Push (RP). Both lead to climate neutrality in Europe in 2050 but the RP scenario differs by setting new reinforced targets for renewable technologies in Europe. Results show that hydrogen production would increase sharply in the coming decades, exceeding 30 million tons (Mt) by 2030 and more than 100 Mt by 2050 in both scenarios. Polyvalence of hydrogen in decarbonizing the European energy system for certain hard-to-abate energy uses in transport and industry is also observed. European hydrogen production relies on a diverse mix including both renewable and low-carbon technologies. It is complemented by hydrogen imports from neighboring regions, that represent between 10 and 15% of total demand in 2050. Access to existing cross-border pipelines is a critical advantage compared to maritime transport. Notably, there are considerable cost reductions due to technology deployment for solar power and hydrogen production by electrolyzers. © 2022 Elsevier Ltd


Academic article





  • French Institute of Petroleum
  • Paris University Nanterre
  • SINTEF Energy Research / Gassteknologi
  • SINTEF Energy Research / Energisystemer
  • France



Published in

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews







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