(471l) Optimisation of Fuel Supply Chains within Planetary Boundaries: A Case Study of Hydrogen for Road Transportation in the UK

Authors: 
Ehrenstein, M., Imperial College London
Galán Martín, Á., Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Tulus, V., Universitat Rovira i Virgili
Guillén-Gosálbez, G., Imperial College London
Current studies in sustainable transportation often neglect environmental impacts beyond climate change or consider them using metrics which are difficult to interpret from a world-wide sustainability viewpoint. We apply here the concept of Planetary Boundaries (PBs), which define a global environmental “safe operating space”, to address the optimal design of sustainable fuel supply chains (SCs) focusing on hydrogen for vehicle use. Applying the PBs concept in a mixed-integer linear programming model, SC configurations are identified which satisfy a given transportation demand while minimising transgression of PBs, hence reducing the risk of exceeding the carrying capacity of the Earth system. We apply this methodology to a UK hydrogen case study, finding that while current transgression levels could be significantly reduced by moving from fossil fuels to hydrogen, it would yet be insufficient to operate fully within all PBs concurrently. The SC design with the lowest transgression would produce and compress hydrogen using nuclear power, while avoiding most transportation needs due to a decentralised structure. This work opens new avenues for the incorporation of PBs in the optimisation and assessment of energy systems and highlights the potential of emerging technologies to significantly improve the status quo in environmental terms. Nevertheless, further work will be required to find solutions operating within all PBs, and ultimately resulting in an economy fully consistent with the concept of absolute environmental sustainability.