|dc.description.abstract||A recent overhaul of Mexico’s energy sector launched by a Constitutional reform in
2013 started the decarbonization of the economy by tapping into Mexico’s vast
renewable resources and through the deployment of new energy technologies. This, in
addition to health concerns due to high pollution levels in large urban populations,
encouraged the government to kick-start an effort to roll out alternative-fuel vehicles.
One of the alternative-fuel vehicles currently explored in the United States and other
countries, like Japan and the EU, are fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen, yet this
technology requires complex supply chains with large up-front costs. Thus, governments
are exploring early market applications that can help jump start the hydrogen market
through demonstration projects, like city-owned buses, and through government
incentives for hydrogen-powered material handling equipment.
This study takes a first stab at delving whether the Mexican government should consider
incentivizing the deployment of fuel cell technologies, in their effort to accelerate the
de-carbonization of the transportation system and more generally to tackle climate
change, through hydrogen-powered forklifts—as these are a proven early market
application that is widely used in the United States. Yet this can only be argued for if the
new technology presents a solid environmental benefit vis-à-vis the incumbent one – in
this case battery-powered forklifts.
The methodology used in the study was a life-cycle assessment, that estimates the
emissions and energy used throughout the hydrogen supply chain, and compares them
to the electricity one, using a model developed by the Argonne National Laboratory and Mexico-specific data. The results show a clear advantage of using hydrogen over
batteries when produced via electrolysis powered by wind electricity; a large
disadvantage when using electrolysis powered by the average Mexican electric mix; and
mixed results when using hydrogen produced through the reforming of natural gas.
However, there is also a case for fuel cells in material handling equipment due to
potential reductions in cost of ownership that argue in favor of the hydrogen scenario.||en_US