Richard Ginika Izuora
The International Energy Agency, IEA, has observed that the global energy crisis is boosting interest in low-emissions hydrogen and the pipeline of projects is expanding.
It however notes that only a small share of projects are under construction around the world.
Electrolyser manufacturing is set to grow strongly and pilot projects are popping up in new applications such as steel and transport. But, this is just a small part of the potential of the hydrogen landscape, highlighting the need for greater policy support, says a new IEA report.
The annual Global Hydrogen Review points out that encouraging developments in hydrogen technologies to support the clean energy transition include an expected six-fold increase by 2025 in global manufacturing capacity of electrolysers. This is very necessary to produce low-emission hydrogen from renewable electricity.
Low-emissions hydrogen production worldwide in 2021 was less than 1 million tonnes. Most of this came from plants using fossil fuels, with some from carbon capture, utilisation and storage.
At the same time, overall hydrogen demand worldwide reached 94 million tonnes worldwide, exceeding the 2019 high of 91 million tonnes. That increase was met by hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, not by carbon capture technologies. And, while that demand for new applications jumped by 60 per cent in 2021, the growth to 40,000 tonnes was from a very low base.
Hydrogen and hydrogen-derived fuels could contribute to climate ambitions and energy security IF they are produced through clean energy. If they are deployed in sectors such as a heavy industry and long-distance transport they can cut emissions as they replace fossil fuels.
The IEA’s annual publication tracks hydrogen production and demand worldwide, as well as progress in areas such as infrastructure development, trade, policy, regulation, investment and innovation.
The Global Hydrogen Review is an output of the Clean Energy Ministerial Hydrogen Initiative and is supposed to inform energy sector stakeholders on the status and future prospects of hydrogen.
This year’s Review is focused on helping decision makers fine-tune strategies to attract investment and facilitate deployment of hydrogen technologies while creating demand for hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels.
It includes a special focus on how the global energy crises sparked by Russia invading Ukraine has accelerated the momentum behind hydrogen and the opportunities it offers to contribute decarbonisation targets and enhance energy security.
The Review lays out a series of policy recommendations to build the frameworks and create demand needed to encourage investment into low-emissions hydrogen projects. This includes the electrolysers and carbon capture technologies needed to produce low-emission hydrogen.
IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol says there are growing signs that hydrogen will be an important element to help the world transition to an affordable, secure and clean energy system. “But, there are still major advances in technology, regulation and demand needed for it to fulfil its potential.
“The strong flow of announcements we now see for low-emissions hydrogen projects are yet another indicator that a new energy economy is emerging. Governments now need to implement concrete policies to remove regulatory barriers and support shovel-ready projects,” said Birol.