Argonne National Laboratory

Economic and Infrastructure Analysis

Transitioning from a petroleum-based transportation system to a more diverse energy base requires more than identifying a set of fuels or energy sources that perform well in vehicles. The production and use of alternative fuels (and energy carriers like electricity or hydrogen) will have environmental and economic consequences that must be understood and infrastructure requirements that must be met. What works to get gasoline or diesel to the end customer will not necessarily work for natural gas or hydrogen, and the factories that produce today’s internal combustion engines will probably not produce tomorrow’s fuel cell electric vehicles.

Many energy technologies require new infrastructure to succeed in the marketplace. Infrastructure suppliers are often smaller companies that have less access to capital and less ability to absorb current losses in anticipation of future gains. Argonne analysis research considers the various inputs, drivers and costs involved in establishing alternative energy infrastructures, the relationship between economics and technology development, and the impacts of infrastructure expenditures on US and regional economies. A particular focus of Argonne activities is gaseous fuel transmission and distribution, especially hydrogen delivery and refueling analysis. The latter includes the H2USA Initiative, in which Argonne is a partner.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, H2USA is a public-private partnership focused on advancing hydrogen infrastructure to support more transportation energy options for U.S. consumers, including fuel cell electric vehicles. The partnership brings together automakers, government agencies, gas suppliers, and the hydrogen and fuel cell industries to coordinate research and identify cost-effective solutions to deploy infrastructure that can deliver affordable, clean hydrogen fuel for use in fuel cell electric vehicles in the United States. Argonne's techno-economic analysis work encompasses: