Resources FAQs

Background on the Institutions


What is the IEA HIA?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) Hydrogen Implementing Agreement (HIA) was established in 1977 to pursue collaborative hydrogen research and development and information exchange among its member nations. The HIA is an IEA Implementing Agreement. Throughout its 30+ year history, the HIA has engaged in 33 annexes or tasks, each focusing on a different facet ofr hydrogen technology over a 3-5 year period. Each member country enlists accomplished scientists to conduct ground-breaking research and analysis related to a specific task. Collectively, the results of these efforts work to accelerate hydrogen implementation and widespread utilization.

What is the IEA?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organization which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond.
 
Founded in response to the 1973/4 oil crisis, the IEA’s initial role was to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets.
 
While this continues to be a key aspect of its work, the IEA has evolved and expanded. It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative statistics, analysis and recommendations.
 
Today, the IEA’s four main areas of focus are:

  • Energy security: Promoting diversity, efficiency and flexibility within all energy sectors;
  • Economic development: Ensuring the stable supply of energy to IEA member countries and promoting free markets to foster economic growth and eliminate energy poverty;
  • Environmental awareness: Enhancing international knowledge of options for tackling climate change; and
  • Engagement worldwide: Working closely with non-member countries, especially major producers and consumers, to find solutions to shared energy and environmental concerns.

 
More information can be found at: www.iea.org.

What is the OECD?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is the grandfather organization for many different agencies and organizations including the IEA. “The forerunner of OECD was the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC). OEEC was formed in 1947 to administer American and Canadian aid under the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Its headquarters were established at the Chateau de la Muette in Paris in 1949.

OECD took over from OEEC in 1961. Since then, its mission has been to help its member countries to achieve sustainable economic growth and employment and to raise the standard of living in member countries while maintaining financial stability – all this in order to contribute to the development of the world economy.” More information can be found at: www.oecd.org.
 

Framework


What is IEA HIA’s vision and mission?

The IEA HIA’s vision for a hydrogen future is one based on a clean, sustainable energy supply of global proportions that plays a key role in all sectors of the economy. The IEA HIA‘s mission is to accelerate hydrogen implementation and widespread utilization to optimize environmental protection, improve energy security and promote economic development internationally while establishing the HIA as a premier global resource for expertise in hydrogen.

What are the Strategies of IEA HIA?

The main strategy of IEA HIA is to facilitate, coordinate and maintain innovative, research, development and demonstration activities through international cooperation and information exchange.

What are Themes of IEA HIA Strategy?

For the period 2015-2019, the IEA HIA has identified three major themes that stem from its mission and vision: Collaborative R, D&D (research, development and demonstration); Analysis that positions hydrogen; and H2 awareness, understanding and acceptance. Each theme is associated with a set of portfolios that contain the tasks and activities.
 
Collaborative R,D&D theme, which advances hydrogen science and technology, consists of the following four portfolios: Hydrogen Production, Hydrogen Storage, Integrated Hydrogen Systems, and Hydrogen Integration in Existing Infrastructure. The research and development of different hydrogen technologies is divided among different task groups within IEA HIA
 
Analysis that positions Hydrogen consists of three portfolios: technical, market and support for political decision-making.
 
The H2 Awareness, understanding and acceptance theme fosters technology diffusion and commercialization of current hydrogen technologies. This theme is comprised of three portfolios: Information Dissemination, safety, and information outreach. The overarching purpose of the portfolios is to inform and engage critical subsets of HIA stakeholders and decision makers.

Tasks


What is a task?

Tasks, also referred to as annexes, are research projects that focus on a particular facet of hydrogen. Topics range from Thermochemical Production (Task 1) to local H2 supply for energy applications (Task 33). Each task is often split into phases in which research is delegated into sub-tasks. Each task has meetings with the experts from participating countries and the Operating Agents (the leader and organizer of a task), typically twice a year. Each year an annual report is published that gives the updated status of the current tasks. These annual reports are posted at www.ieahia.org.

How are the topics decided on for the tasks?

Any of the IEA HIA ExCo Members (Contracting Parties or Sponsors) may propose a topic for a task. Topics can emerge in a number of ways such as: discoveries during research on other tasks, in annual meetings, or in the course of developing the five-year Strategic Plans.  In order to get the task approved, the following steps must be undertaken:

  • The proposal must be formally presented to the Executive Committee for approval.
  • On approval of the proposal by the ExCo, the interested countries must conduct a “Definition” phase in which the details of the research are determined. The ExCo appoints a “Task Organizer” to lead the Task “Definition” phase. This individual is compensated directly by one of the countries interested in forming the task.
  • After the “Definition” phase is complete, the final task proposal must be submitted for  approval of the Executive Committee.
  • If the task is approved, participating countries nominate experts to carry out the research.  Experts typically meet twice a year to discuss the progress of the research and development.

How are tasks funded?

The participating countries for each task are responsible for financing the research being conducted.  Most often, the participating countries select and directly compensate their own national experts. 

 

How long do tasks take to complete?

Tasks are typically allotted 3 years for completion. However, extensions are available upon request and approval.

How many people work on a task?

This depends completely on the task and the nature of the research required. For instance, there were 8 member nations involved with Hydrogen Safety (Task 19) and 19 member nations involved with Fundamental and Applied Hydrogen Storage Materials Development Task 22.

Who is in charge of a task?

Usually, one of the ExCo Members participating in a task will oversee task progress. This ExCo Member assigns an individual to lead the task. The role of the ExCo Member and the expert manager is called the “Operating Agent”.

How many tasks have been completed?

As of the end of 2013, 29 Tasks have been completed or are essentially complete as they are in the process of finishing their final report.

How many tasks are currently being worked on?

As of the end of 2013, 5 tasks are active and five (5) is in the “definition” stage.

Becoming a IEA HIA Member


Who are the members of IEA HIA?

The IEA HIA members are countries or legally constituted international organizations called “Contracting Parties.”  Presently, there are 22 Contracting Parties:  Australia, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, UNIDO, and the United States.  If a prospective IEA HIA contracting party is not an IEA member, special permission is needed.
 
It is also possible to have IEA HIA sponsor members. Sponsors are defined as entities of OECD member countries or OECD non-member countries that are not designated by the governments of their respective countries to participate in a particular Implementing Agreement, or non-intergovernmental international entities in which one or more entities of OECD member countries or OECD non-member countries participate.
 
There are different categories of Sponsor Members.  According to the policy framework formulated in the 2009-2015 term, the eligible sponsor categories are:  public-private partnerships; industry, associations (with a technical focus) and non-federated groups.  Interested Sponsor Members must also meet criteria of interest, willing and capability of participating in the HIA ExCo and tasks. Presently, there are 3 Sponsor Members: Hy-Safe, NOW GmbH, and Shell Global Solutions International BV.

What is the Executive Committee?

The Executive Committee is comprised of one representative from each of the contracting parties and sponsor members. They act as the governing body of the IEA HIA by approving Tasks, overseeing the creation and completion of the tasks, and deciding on new memberships.

Why should I join HIA?

  • By joining the HIA, participating members get the opportunity to work collaboratively with other Contracting Parties and sponsor members nations on cutting-edge hydrogen research and development.
  • As an alternative energy carrier to electricity, hydrogen will have a place in the future energy market, so investing now in the research will allow your country or organization to influence the advancement of hydrogen as a fuel.
  • As a member you will have access to over 30 years of task research.
  • Involvement in IEA HIA connects you with leaders, scientists, and nation representatives who are all committed to the goal of reliable, sustainable and clean energy.
  • Members can be assured of careful intellectual property (IP) treatment.

What is the cost becoming a member?

All members contribute to the IEA HIA Common Fund, paying dues into this fund on an annual basis.  The Common Fund is used for IEA HIA management and promotion.

How to join the IEA HIA (accession process)

In order to become a contracting party/ sponsor member the following steps must be taken:

  • First, a formal request for membership must be given to the Executive Committee of the IEA HIA.
  • The Executive Committee will review the request and extend a formal invitation to the country/ legally constituted international organization/ industrial entity.
  • The country/ legally constituted international organization/ industrial entity must choose a contracting agent who will act as a representative for that country/ legally constituted international organization/ industrial entity and be responsible for providing sufficient funding for any tasks that it elects to participate in.
  • The country/ legally constituted international organization/ industrial entity will then work with the HIA Secretariat to complete the necessary paperwork for joining the IEA HIA.
  • Once a country/ legally constituted international organization/ industrial entity becomes a contracting party/ sponsor member they must join at least one task, committing to follow its scope of work and ensuring appropriate expert participation (as well as expert funding).

What are the responsibilities of a member?

Members must participate in at least one task, actively participate in committee meetings and planning sessions, and reliably meet their financial obligations to the IEA HIA.

Hydrogen Technology


What is hydrogen?

Hydrogen is the simplest, lightest and most abundant element in the universe, making up >90% of all matter. In its normal gaseous state, hydrogen is odorless, tasteless, colorless and non-toxic. Hydrogen burns readily with oxygen, releasing considerable amounts of energy as heat and producing only water as exhaust. It has a high energy content by weight – nearly three times that of gasoline. Today, the commercial production of hydrogen worldwide amounts to about 40 million tons, corresponding to about 1% of the world’s primary energy needs.

How to produce hydrogen?

Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of feedstocks. These include: water with input from renewable energy sources such as sunlight and wind (via electrolysis, the splitting of water [H20]), other renewable resources such as biomass, and carbon-based substances, often referred to as fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal. These substances must undergo one of a number of process technologies including chemical, biological, electrolytic, photolytic and thermo-chemical, and steam-reformation in order to produce hydrogen. Large-scale hydrogen production is probable in the longer term. In the short and medium term, the production options for hydrogen are first based on distributed hydrogen production from the electrolysis of water and on the reforming of natural gas and coal.

How to produce hydrogen from splitting water?

Hydrogen can be produced from the splitting of water through various processes including water electrolysis, photo-electrolysis, photo-biological production and high-temperature water decomposition.

Water electrolysis is the process in which hydrogen is produced from splitting water through the application of electrical energy into hydrogen and oxygen.

Photo-electrolysis of water is the process whereby light is used to split water directly into hydrogen and oxygen.
 
Photo-biological production of hydrogen is combined with photosynthesis and hydrogen production catalyzed by hydrogenases.
 
High-temperature water decomposition is the process in which water is split under high temperature conditions.

How to produce hydrogen from carbon-based materials?

The two most common fossil fuels used to produce hydrogen are natural gas and coal. For natural gas, the processes involve the conversion of methane and water vapor or oxygen gas into hydrogen and carbon monoxide (CO), which will be further converted to carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen using a water-gas shift reaction. Coal often undergoes a similar reaction requiring high temperature entrained flow process with water vapor. Again, the products are hydrogen and carbon monoxide (CO), which is converted to carbon dioxide (CO2). Hydrogen production from coal is commercially mature but costs more than hydrogen production from natural gas. Carbon dioxide is a major exhaust in all production of hydrogen from fossil fuels; to obtain a sustainable (zeroemission) production of hydrogen, the CO2 should be captured and stored.

How to produce hydrogen from renewable resources?

Other than producing H2 through water-splitting, many technologies for producing hydrogen from renewable resources are the subject of research and development. One promising renewable resources is biomass, which is characterized as any biological material that is living or recently deceased. Corn, sugarcane, and switchgrass are some of the common forms of biomass. A process similar to coal gasification is conducted to produce a hydrogen-containing gas from biomass. However, one of the significant challenges facing biomass is the quality of the material. Depending on climatic variations, crop type and location the production methods can vary greatly, making it difficult to gain consistency in product quality.  Biomass collection is still viewed as a great challenge.

How to store hydrogen?

Developing a safe, efficient, and flexible storing methods for hydrogen has been one of the most challenging aspects of hydrogen fuel development. In particular, the storage of hydrogen for use in a vehicle is at the cutting edge of much R&D. Many different storage methods  are being tested using all three states of hydrogen: gas, liquid, and solid. Currently, research has been conducted on increasing hydrogen storage in solid state material for vehicular application and storing hydrogen in commercial gas pipeline.

How to store gaseous hydrogen?

Gaseous hydrogen usually involves being stored in steel tanks, or composite tanks that are made of a various series of material or composites such as carbon fiber and designed to endure higher pressure. Cooling gaseous hydrogen to near cryogenic temperatures is another option. There are two main challenges: First, the safety concern of the highly flammable gas rapidly escaping in an accident. The second challenge is meeting the vehicle range requirements with a storage device conformed to available space.

A more novel concepts being tested is the use of glass microspheres. The main problems are the glass microspheres slowly peak hydrogen and are easy to break during cycling.

How to store liquid hydrogen?

Options include cooling down hydrogen to cryogenic temperatures and storing it as a constituent of other liquids such as NaBH4 and rechargeable organic liquids. Although liquid hydrogen has a much better volumetric density than gaseous hydrogen, 30-40% of the energy is lost when creating liquid hydrogen.

Often liquid hydrogen is stored in super-insulated cryogenic containers in order to maintain the low temperature needed for its liquid state. One advantage of liquid hydrogen is the relatively low pressure required for its storage, which alleviates some of the safety concerns that affect gaseous hydrogen.

NaBH4 and rechargeable organic liquid can guarantee a safe and controllable production of hydrogen, but in general, along with cryogenic hydrogen, these processes require safe and well-organized industrial infrastructures, which are quite costly.

How to store solid hydrogen?

Storage of hydrogen in solid materials has the potential to become a safe and efficient way to store energy, for both stationary and mobile applications. The suitable materials include: carbon and other high surface area materials; H2O-reactive chemical hydrides; thermal chemical hydrides; and rechargeable hydrides. These materials are utilized because of their ability to react or absorb with hydrogen and to subsequently be subjected to another reaction, which removes the hydrogen back out of the material when it is needed for fuel. Compared to gaseous and liquid hydrogen storage, solid hydrogen storage is on its very early development. However, it has the potential advantage of lower volume, lower pressure and higher purity hydrogen output. Currently, the most-developed option is metal hybrids.

What is a fuel cell?

Fuel cells are an energy conversion technology experiencing a rapid development. Their advantages include quiet operation, a modular construction that is easily scalable and higher efficiencies than conventional energy technologies. Thus, fuel cells are attractive for a wide spectrum of potential applications, including combined heat and power (CHP), distributed power generation and transport.

Fuel cells are electrochemical devices which convert the energy of a chemical reaction directly into electricity, with heat as a by-product. They are similar in principle to primary batteries except that the fuel and oxidant are stored externally, allowing a continuing operation as long as fuel and oxidant (oxygen or air) are supplied.

Stationary fuel cell systems have been installed world-wide and have demonstrated excellent fuel efficiency and reliability. And fuel cells are also attracting interest for providing portable power for laptop computers, mobile telephones etc.

Why use hydrogen as an energy resource?

Hydrogen is both an energy vector and carrier. As the significant secondary energy source, it can store and deliver energy in a usable form. Hydrogen offers several advantages:

  • It can be produced using abundant and diverse domestic energy resources, including fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal; renewable energy resources, such as solar, wind, and biomass; and nuclear energy. This diversity of energy supply would mean we do not need to rely on any single energy resource or on foreign sources of energy.
  • Producing hydrogen from renewable and nuclear sources, and from fossil fuel-based systems with carbon sequestration, yields near-zero greenhouse gas or criteria emissions.
  • Hydrogen can power all sectors of the economy - transportation, power, industrial, and buildings.

Where does hydrogen fit in an energy portfolio?

It is widely believed that our reliance on finite fossil energy is unsustainable, both environmentally and economically, increasing the necessity of nations to explore a wide range of potential energy solutions. Hydrogen could have a significant impact in the transportation market by replacing petroleum as an alternative energy. It carries higher density than pure electrons (more range than battery cars) and it can be produced via renewable energy generation. It could also act as catalyst in the proliferation of other renewable technologies such as wind and solar because of the demand hydrogen production creates for electricity. Therefore, the generation of hydrogen could go hand in hand with some of the other emerging alternative fuel sources. Since much of the success of hydrogen depends on further technological advancements, it is hard to quantify its future role; nevertheless, the R&D of hydrogen has yielded promising results, bolstering the potential of hydrogen as a reliable energy source.  As a testament to this, many nations have invested significant funds towards the advancement of hydrogen energy.

What are the future uses of hydrogen?

Hydrogen has the potential to provide energy to all sectors of the economy: transportation, buildings and industry. It can complement or replace network-based electricity – the other main secondary energy carrier.

Hydrogen can provide storage options for renewables-based electricity technologies such as solar and wind. Besides, as input to fuel cell, it can be converted back to electrical energy in an efficient way in stationary or mobile applications.

Hydrogen may also be an attractive technology for communities cannot economically be supplied with electricity via a grid. Because hydrogen can be produced from a variety of energy sources including fossil, nuclear or renewable energy it can reduce dependence on imports and improve energy security.

How is hydrogen currently being used?

There are two primary uses for hydrogen currently. One is making ammonia (NH3), which is used directly or indirectly as fertilizer, to satisfy the growing demand from intensive agricultural usage. The other one is hydrocracking, the process in which heavy fossil fuels are converted into lighter and more suitable forms.

What is the environmental impact of using hydrogen as a fuel?

Hydrogen overall is a very clean fuel. Replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen in providing energy services could bring major environmental benefits, depending on how it is produced. If hydrogen is extracted from a fossil fuel, then often CO2, one kind of Greenhouse Gases, is a by-product of the process, but the level of CO2 emitted in the hydrogen-production process is lowered. And burning hydrogen in the presence of oxygen in a fuel cell produces no harmful emissions,

When it comes to hydrogen production, research is underway to combine CO2 sequestration (Carbon capture and storage – CCS)  and hydrogen production, drastically reducing Greenhouse Gases emissions. If hydrogen is created from nuclear power of renewables, the process is emission-free, carbon-neutral and has virtually no adverse impact on the environment.

 

World Energy Challenges


What are fossil fuels?

As stated by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), fossil fuels are energy sources formed in the Earth's crust from decayed organic material. The common fossil fuels are petroleum, coal, and natural gas.

Fossil fuels, at least those easy-to extract fossil fuels, are a finite resource. There will come one day when they are no longer available fossil fuels to be harvested or produced cheaply; the rate in which we use fossil fuels far out-paces the rate in which dead plants and animal matters decay and mature into fossil fuels.

What are the environmental impacts of fossil fuels?

The combustion of fossil fuels for producing electricity or transportation produces an array of greenhouse gases (GHG). These gases contribute to climate change, which is generally considered to be able to adversely affect global temperatures and weather patterns. Climate change can also cause significant disruptions for plant, animal, and human habitats. What’s more, the extraction of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, requires harsh drilling and mining that will cause damage to the environment.

How much longer can we continue to enjoy cheap fossil fuels?

There is no definitive answer to this question. What is for certain is that easy-to extract fossil fuels are a finite resource. The rate in which we use fossil fuels far out-paces the rate in which dead plant and animal matter decays and matures into a fossil fuel. It’s generally agreed that we are entering the Peak Oil era. Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the production rate of petroleum is expected to enter the stage of terminal decline. Due to the growing perception that the world is starting to run out of cheap fossil fuels, there comes the hastening need to turn to cleaner and more secure energy resources and technologies.

In recent years, the application of aggressive extraction technology known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has increased the supply of fossil fuels, and lowered their market price.  However, when the externalities associated with this process begin to be internalize --  in other words when the adverse environmental effects of the mining and combustion of fossil fuels as well as the impact on the water supply and quality - are included in the price of fossil fuels price, the price will no longer be “cheap”.

What are Greenhouse Gases (GHG)?

The Greenhouse Gases can absorb radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of radiation (infrared radiation) emitted by the Earth’s surface and by clouds, then in turn emit infrared radiation from a level where the temperature is colder than the surface. The net effect is a local trapping of part of the absorbed energy and a tendency to warm the planetary surface. Water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere.

What is Climate Change?

Climate change is understood to be the result of global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions, of which carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important anthropogenic GHG. Changes in climate and the undesirable effects of those changes, including increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level have already been observed. Also forecasted are extreme weather events that augur natural disaster. It’s highly agreed and of much evidence that GHG emissions will continue to grow over the coming decades with current climate change mitigation policies and related sustainable development practices.

What is renewable energy?

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy resources are considered renewable if they can be naturally replenished in a relatively short period of time. Renewable energy resources can regenerate and can be sustained indefinitely, and include biomass, hydropower, geothermal energy, wind energy, and solar energy.

What is sustainability?

In ecology, sustainability is how biological systems endure and remain diverse and productive. One common understanding of sustainability is taking care of current generations without impairing needs of future generations. In other words, sustainability is a holistic way of interacting as a global community to ensure the longevity of resources and potential for society to grow responsibly. Being sustainable requires respect towards natural resources and careful handling of waste so that the environment can be preserved. It also involves environmentally sensitive designs for buildings and communities to promote positive human environment interaction and maintain a high standard of living for all people of society.

What is sustainable energy?

Sustainable energy is the sustainable provision of energy that satisfies the needs of current generation without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Sustainable energy include renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, wave power, geothermal energy, artificial photosynthesis, tidal power, and energy technologies aimed at improving energy efficiency.
 

Why is hydrogen important?

The world’s consumption of energy will only go higher in the coming decade. Conventional hydrocarbon energy sources will become harder to be extracted and price of fossil fuel will become more vulnerable to different shocks and crisis. While research to enhance energy production from renewable energy is ongoing, methods and strategies to store excessive energy and to optimize energy produced are also required to achieve a sustainable economy. Hydrogen is a great candidate to serve as an intermediate energy vector and carrier to optimize energy efficiency, achieve energy sustainability and suitable storage in every sector of the economy. Hydrogen’s potential merits continued research and deployment.   

 

QUESTIONS:

Background about the Institutions

IEA HIA Strategic Framework and Portfolio of Task and Activities

 
Framework
Tasks
Becoming a Member
Hydrogen Technology
World Energy Challenges

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