Thumbnail Image

Semi-Systematic Literature Review on the Contribution of Hydrogen to Universal Access to Energy in the Rationale of Sustainable Development Goal Target 7.1

Schöne, Nikolas; Heinz, Boris

As part of the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7), SDG target 7.1 recognizes universal electrification and the provision of clean cooking fuel as two fundamental challenges for global society. Faltering progress toward SDG target 7.1 calls for innovative technologies to stimulate advancements. Hydrogen has been proposed as a versatile energy carrier to be applied in both pillars of SDG target 7.1: electrification and clean cooking. This paper conducts a semi-systematic literature review to provide the status quo of research on the application of hydrogen in the rationale of SDG 7.1, covering the technical integration pathways, as well as the key economic, environmental, and social aspects of its use. We identify decisive factors for the future development of hydrogen use in the rationale of SDG target 7.1 and, by complementing our analysis with insights from the related literature, propose future avenues of research. The literature on electrification proposes that hydrogen can serve as a backup power supply in rural off-grid communities. While common electrification efforts aim to supply appliances that use lower amounts of electricity, a hydrogen-based power supply can satisfy appliances with higher power demands including electric cook stoves, while simultaneously supporting clean cooking efforts. Alternatively, with the exclusive aim of stimulating clean cooking, hydrogen is proposed to be used as a clean cooking fuel via direct combustion in distribution and utilization infrastructures analogous to Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG). While expected economic and technical developments are seen as likely to render hydrogen technologies economically competitive with conventional fossil fuels in the future, the potential of renewably produced hydrogen usage to reduce climate-change impacts and point-of-use emissions is already evident today. Social benefits are likely when meeting essential safety standards, as a hydrogen-based power supply offers service on a high tier that might overachieve SDG 7.1 ambitions, while hydrogen cooking via combustion fits into the existing social habits of LPG users. However, the literature lacks clear evidence on the social impact of hydrogen usage. Impact assessments of demonstration projects are required to fill this research gap.
Published in: Energies, 10.3390/en16041658, MDPI