Hydrogen has long been seen as the fuel of the future. But in 2021, the pressing need to decarbonise the energy system means governments and private-sector players are clamouring for it to become a reality today. That’s not easy, of course. “The potential for hydrogen is huge but every use case still has technical and economic hurdles to overcome,” cautions Paul Bogers, Vice President – Hydrogen at the oil giant Shell.
In late May, Reuters Events hosted Hydrogen 2021, with government Ministers and private sector leaders from across the globe taking to the digital stage to share their approach to the hydrogen economy.
Although hydrogen is widely used in industry, scaling low-carbon versions of the fuel, particularly when created through electrolysis using renewable energy, remains a daunting prospect. But there are also significant rewards in sight. Industry body the Hydrogen Council sees a potential $2.5 trillion market for hydrogen and fuel cell equipment by 2050, a figure which the Council’s executive director Daryl Wilson says will probably be updated upwards this year.
And Frank Wouters, director of the European Union-Gulf Cooperation Council Clean Energy Technology Network, says “There’s no scenario that doesn’t have a role for hydrogen.”
The question, then, is how to source, finance, distribute and above all scale low-carbon hydrogen production in time to meet society’s ambitious climate goals. To address this issue, Reuters Events held a two-day digital conference and exhibition on hydrogen in May 2021, featuring more than 50 speakers across some 20 sessions. This paper summarises the key points of the event.
The report will provide insight into:
- Distribution infrastructure – the growth of hydrogen is not just related to supply and demand, but also hinges on issues such as transportation and storage
- Identifying hydrogen applications – exploring off-grid energy, aviation, mobility, heavy industry, and power can decarbonize with hydrogen
- Key geographical markets – hear developments in Chile, Australia, the developing world, and across Europe and North America
- Sizing the clean hydrogen opportunity – what is different this time round? Assess the growing buzz around clean hydrogen and the race to drive the cost down
- Sourcing low-carbon hydrogen and scaling up production – with demand for clean hydrogen set to rocket, how can the fuel be sourced? Explore scale up through large-scale electrolysers tied to captive, high-capacity-factor renewable energy plants, green hydrogen from waste and other leading solutions
- Financing the transition to clean hydrogen – clean hydrogen’s vast potential will not be captured without vast levels of investment. Uncover where resources should be targeted to ensure the successful development of the hydrogen economy
Chart 1: Six components of the energy transition required to reach net zero by 2050. Source: IRENA.
“There’s a real tsunami of hydrogen opportunities coming up worldwide,” says Dr Christoph Noeres, head of green hydrogen at Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions. “We have never seen such a wave of projects over the last 10-20 years.”