A number of specific properties make hydrogen a particularly viable energy carrier as the world moves towards net zero. According to the EU¹ its benefits include:
- Its use for energy purposes does not cause greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as water is the only by-product of the process;
- It can be stored over long periods;
- It can be used for producing other gases, such as methane or ammonia, as well as liquid fuels;
- Existing infrastructure (gas transport and gas storage) can be repurposed for hydrogen, and a certain proportion of hydrogen can be blended with natural gas;
It has a higher energy density relative to volume than batteries, making it a suitable fuel for long distance and heavy goods transport.
Against this backdrop, interest in green hydrogen policies is soaring across the world with many countries publishing national hydrogen strategies and investors pouring billions into the rapidly evolving sector.
the green hydrogen industry could attract more than €2tn of investment
A recent report² claimed that green hydrogen was poised to become a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” and could give rise to a €10tn addressable market globally by 2050 for the utilities industry alone. The report stated that in Europe, the green hydrogen industry could attract more than €2tn of investment by that date. Up to €1.4tn of this figure would come from capex in renewables to power electrolysers, €400bn each in both hydrogen power plants and electrolysers, and a further €100bn in gas infrastructure.
Looking ahead to 2050, green hydrogen in Europe has the potential to double power demand
Looking ahead to 2050, green hydrogen in Europe has the potential to double power demand while also leading to a profound reconfiguration of the gas grid. Gas power plants could also be converted to burn hydrogen instead to provide backup power in periods of abnormally high demand and/or extremely low production from renewables.
Meanwhile, interest in how green hydrogen can help decarbonise the world has been given added impetus by the conflict in Ukraine which has, in particular, forced European governments to speed up their transitions to renewables and to urgently find ways of reducing their dependence on Russian gas supplies.