The Hydrogen Council’s new report explains that low-carbon hydrogen supply at scale is economically and environmentally feasible if the right approach and best-practices for production are used.
Although there are also more options to go, the point is that it must be a fact-based approach that leverages regional resources and includes a combination of different production pathways. As a result, emissions and cost reductions will help to achieve decarbonise the energy system and limit global warming.
Since 2020 many countries have announced and launched their hydrogen strategies and programs, what made it clear that decision makers have to deal with the decarbonisation of the projects so hydrogen can really be a key in the global clean energy transition. That is why the report provides new data based on an assessment of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated through different hydrogen supply pathways and the lifecycle of GHG emissions for various hydrogen applications. Also, it includes three hypothetical hydrogen supply scenarios to measure the feasibility and the impact of deploying renewable and low-carbon hydrogen at scale.
“If hydrogen represents a global solution to decarbonise industry and to contribute to the energy transition, it’s only by reducing emissions along the chain and taking into account each local specificity that we will be able to unlock its full potential,” said Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of Air Liquide and Co-chair of the Hydrogen Council. “It will require a combination of several renewable and low-carbon pathways, facilitated by favourable regulations, as well as further industrial developments for low-carbon hydrogen technologies. While developing a low-carbon hydrogen production infrastructure is ambitious, it is already set-in motion and a prerequisite for growing hydrogen’s role in the clean energy system.”
“Hydrogen is a key part of the energy transition and can achieve very high CO2 savings with the right approach,” added Takeshi Uchiyamada, Chairman of the Board of Toyota Motor Corporation and Co-chair of the Hydrogen Council. “It is important to make hydrogen economically viable, but also to maximise its decarbonisation impact and minimise its resource requirements.”
The report mentions that very high CO2 savings can be achieved through several different hydrogen production pathways and end-uses: green hydrogen achieves the lowest emissions because it is produced with renewable power, through water electrolysis. Blue hydrogen – from natural gas with high CO2 capture rate and storage – is also able to achieve low emissions if best technologies are used and best practices are followed.
All in all, the Hydrogen Council’s analysis shows that when hydrogen is used, a minimum of 60-90 per cent of GHG emissions reduction can be made. Green-only and blue-only scenarios are also feasible as the renewable potentials or carbon sequestration (CCS) capacities do not set limits. In the study 21,800 terawatts-hour (TWh) of hydrogen has been identified for the year 2050; in this case, an annual growth rate of 30-35 per cent would be needed for electrolysers and CCS. On a positive note, the mentioned rate is the same as the growth of the offshore wind and solar PV industry over the last 10 years.