Future of Green Hydrogen Part 2 – Global Implications

Back in April, we looked at the Middle East’s potential to become a global leader in the production and distribution of green hydrogen. In part 2, we consider the wider trends around this exciting source of clean energy and how it might quickly come to impact the world’s energy mix.

While various industries have been experimenting with the use of hydrogen as a clean energy source for years, there are a number of emerging trends that are really helping it progress from a series of pet projects to an innovation that may hold the key to unlocking massive sustainable energy gains worldwide.

Hydrogen developmental trends

Hydrogen makes inroads into transport, buildings and power generation industries: The race to provide cleaner energy is accelerating, and as the output and efficiency of renewables grows, energy storage has become increasingly pressing problem. Hydrogen is fast becoming a leading alternative for energy storage for renewable power generation facilities, due to its light, storable, energy-heavy nature and the fact that it does not produce carbon emissions. It is also poised to have significant impact on the way we manage heat and electricity in our buildings, which accounts for 30% of the world’s final energy use. Hydrogen is now being trialled on an increasingly ambitious scale as a zero-carbon alternative for heating and powering buildings, where success could bring rapid and monumental sustainability gains for the industry.

Microgrids look to hydrogen: The increasing use of microgrids stems from their growing versatility and reliability to bring power to areas far from the main electricity grid. With hydrogen offering viable long-term storage solutions without sacrificing the environmental sustainability element, microgrids are set to become markedly more cost-effective and the route of choice for more isolated areas, regions vulnerable to extreme weather, and more.

Growing efficiency gains in solar-to-hydrogen production: Last month a research team at the Australian National University (ANU) announced that they had recorded a new world record in solar-to-hydrogen production efficiency at 17.6%, which they achieved through the use of perovskite-silicon tandem absorbers. This is a substantial milestone in the ongoing journey towards creating a way to store and transport solar-produced energy at scale and in an economically viable manner.

New and planned hydrogen projects and deals

World’s largest green hydrogen project: Air Products, CWA Power and NEOM have agreed to collaborate on a $5 billion facility that will be able to supply 650 tons of carbon-free hydrogen every day, as well as 1.2 million tons of green ammonia every year once it comes online in 2025. The size, scale and ambition of this project has been designed to make it a true exemplar of what green hydrogen can do, while kickstarting its elevation on the global market.

Hydrogen becomes key element of 2050 climate neutrality goal of the European Green Deal: EU analysts have predicted that with the right support, clean hydrogen could satisfy almost a quarter (24%) of total global energy demand by 2050. Mid-July saw the EU release its strategy for integrating clean hydrogen into its long-term climate neutrality efforts, with initiatives such as replacing  carbon-intensive hydrogen in refineries, replacing the use of fossil fuels in steel making and using hydrogen cells as a fuel source for trains and other transportation modes where electrification remains challenging.

Morocco and Germany partner up: Two new green hydrogen projects have been announced as part of the formal partnership between Morocco and Germany for this emerging technology. These initial projects will focus on trialling production methods while sharing knowledge and skills between the two nations’ research teams.

Germany’s $10 billion Green Hydrogen Support Package: Germany has also been busy at home to seize on the potential of hydrogen by announcing its sizeable stimulus package to attempt to grow its electrolyser capacity to 5GW by 2030. This move has been regarded as a much-needed psychological boost to private investors and fellow governments looking towards green hydrogen as a potential path to long-term sustainable energy.

A Greener Future for Hydrogen

A promising mix of greater investment from both public and private sources, new breakthrough efficiency-related innovations and more numerous examples of large-scale trial projects all combine to make green hydrogen the clean energy area to watch in the opening years of this decade. With its highly promising potential as a reliable and efficient storage medium for renewables, clean hydrogen is starting to lock into place as key piece of the puzzle for a widening range of renewable energy challenges.