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Electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are expected to become more important in the longer term to help power growing numbers of cars and trucks. They offer the potential to reduce CO2 emissions from road transport – since they emit zero CO2 in use – but actual CO2 emissions depend on how the energy is produced.

The commercialisation of both technologies relies on new vehicles and refuelling infrastructure and consumer acceptance.

Shell and hydrogen

Shell hydrogen pump

Hydrogen can be used in modified internal combustion engines, but it is most efficient in fuel cell vehicles.

These vehicles convert the energy found in hydrogen into electricity to run their engines, emitting only heat and water from their exhausts.

The total CO2 emissions of hydrogen, however, depend on how it is produced. Currently most hydrogen is made from non-renewable sources such as natural gas or by gasifying coal.

In the future CO2 emissions from hydrogen could be lowered by using biomass or renewable electricity to electrolyse water and break it down.

In partnership with car makers Shell has opened demonstration hydrogen filling stations in China, the USA, Europe and Asia. Here we are learning more about consumer behaviour, safety, cost, and the dispensing and storage of hydrogen.

The number of filling stations will change as new ones are developed and others come to the end of their demonstration phase.

We also participate in partnerships that explore the development of a hydrogen market and help reduce costs.

For hydrogen to take on a major role in the transport industry carmakers, fuel suppliers and governments will need to work together to invest in new vehicles and distribution points, creating a hydrogen market and infrastructure which will bring down costs.

Our partnerships include:

Shell and electrification

Electric vechicles will become increasingly common in the coming years. The CO2  benefts depend on how the electricity is produced – for example from cleaner-burning natural gas.