With its vast potential, but also plenty of uncertainty about how it can be scaled up, hydrogen definitely has a vital role to play in the global energy transition; but what exactly does that role look like? We examine the growing levels of interest and investment in hydrogen and its place in the wider trend of global decarbonisation.
The final months of 2020 and early 2021 have already seen a number of promising political decisions regarding the intended acceleration of major nations towards a carbon-free energy reality. From China’s announcement of net-zero by 2060 target, to the US re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement, the will to clean up the global energy industry is being exhibited much more strongly than at any point in history.
Hydrogen has marked potential to accelerate the progress of this seismic shift. Global hydrogen capacity increased to 26GW at the beginning of February 2021, over seven times more than the 3.5GW available just one year previously. However, this is still a tiny fraction of what’s needed; over 1000GW of electrolyser capacity needs to be established by 2050 to meet our demand forecasts. Also by 2050, global demand for green hydrogen specifically will top 530 million tonnes, which is roughly the equivalent of 7% of global primary energy consumption, or 10.4 billion barrels of oil.