Exhibition & Conference

13-16 September 2021

Singapore EXPO, Singapore

Strategic Programme

Tony Byrne

Vice President

MMI Thornton Tomasetti

James Wesevich


Thornton Tomasetti

11:55 - 12:20

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

S1.4 Assessment of Risk in the Development of Hydrogen Gas Economy

Hydrogen gas and fuel cell technologies have been one of the 'hot' topics in the energy industry in recent months.  Driven by the huge export opportunities, as well as the vast domestic possibilities, the development of a hydrogen industry is gaining momentum worldwide.  When new technologies are developed, especially when they are capable of having a significant impact on society, it is usual to see a lot of attention being given to potential hazards and risk.  The development of a hydrogen industry brings risks which if not properly managed could result in significant commercial, safety and reputational damage to those companies operating in this space.  As with any technology and application advancements, it is critical to ensure that a balance of risk and reward, and that hazards are not over stated.

This paper will present the main risks to be considered by the energy industry as it transitions into the hydrogen economy both with the direct use of hydrogen gas as a replacement for traditional fossil fuels and in fuel cell technologies.  It will cover the risks associated with each of the main application areas (hydrogen production, storage and distribution, mobility and vehicles, non-vehicles and residential / rural power generation). 

Firstly the paper will identify some of the technical issues in the use of hydrogen as a fuel including its high flammability, degradation of materials and alloys, issues with the use of cryogenic liquids and adverse reactions with other chemicals.

Secondly the paper will look at some of the main risks associated with these issues including:

  • Social risks including the public perception of hydrogen as a high hazard fuel resulting from high profile incidents (historically Hindenberg and Fukushima and more recently in Gangneung (South Korea) and Oslo (Norway));
  • Legislative and regulatory risks including the requirement to develop new standards for hydrogen systems (e.g. ISO, BS and Standards Australia) and delays in acceptance of new technologies;
  • Safety risks including the impact of hydrogen storage and fuelling facilities on land use planning; 
  • Project / commercial risks; and 
  • Technological risks including conversion of existing systems, technology validation and life extension of converted systems. 

Lastly, a summary of these elements will be reviewed and conclusions drawn to identify areas and gaps which will need to be addressed by the industry as the future of hydrogen use expands.