The Ultimate Hydrogen Economy Explainer

Want to know what the "hydrogen economy" is? We offer the ultimate explainer of everything hydrogen economy, and sum up all the hydrogen economy moves to date

Nicholas Delate


Nicholas Delate


Aug 3, 2023

The Ultimate Hydrogen Economy Explainer

The Ultimate Hydrogen Economy Explainer

Hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier that can be produced from a wide range of sources and used in many different applications, from transportation to power generation to industrial uses.

Many (including the IEA) believe hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels can play an important part in the decarbonization of the energy sector. However, the environmental impact of hydrogen depends greatly on how it's produced.

This explainer breaks down the hydrogen economy, green hydrogen, and all the countries and companies involved in the space.

But first, a refresher on the differences in hydrogen.

Grey Hydrogen vs Blue Hydrogen vs Green Hydrogen

Grey Hydrogen: Grey hydrogen is the most common type of hydrogen currently produced. It is produced through a process called steam methane reforming (SMR), where natural gas is combined with steam to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2).

However, because the CO2 is released into the atmosphere, the process results in significant greenhouse gas emissions. Grey hydrogen represents the majority of hydrogen produced worldwide, making it the least environmentally friendly version.

Blue Hydrogen: Blue hydrogen is produced nts and companies aimin the same way as grey hydrogen, but with an additional step: carbon capture and storage (CCS). The CO2 byproduct from the SMR process is captured and then stored underground instead of being released into the atmosphere.

This significantly reduces the greenhouse gas emissions associated with hydrogen production, although it does not eliminate them entirely. There are some questions about the viability and efficiency of CCS technology, as well as concerns about potential leaks from stored CO2.

Green Hydrogen: Green hydrogen is produced through electrolysis, a process that uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. If the electricity used in the process comes from renewable sources like wind or solar, then the hydrogen produced is virtually emissions-free, hence the term "green" hydrogen.

Green hydrogen is considered the most environmentally friendly form of hydrogen, but as of 2021, it is also the most expensive to produce due to the high costs of electrolysis and renewable energy. However, costs are expected to fall as technology improves and renewable energy becomes more widespread.

Many governments aim to transition from grey hydrogen to blue and eventually green hydrogen. This transition will be crucial for hydrogen to realize its potential as a key tool in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change as part of the "hydrogen economy."

What is the Hydrogen Economy?

The hydrogen economy represents an economic system built around the efficient and environmentally responsible production and usage of hydrogen as a primary energy source. Instead of an economy based around oil for energy, a hydrogen economy would be one based on hydrogen as a fuel and electricity for everything from transportation to heavy industries, such as mining and steel-making.

Hydrogen production currently costs more than natural gas, but its demand has grown more than threefold since 1975. Most hydrogen gas today is produced with fossil fuels. Many firms will likely look to electrolysis to create green hydrogen at a fraction of the cost.

This means hydrogen could replace natural gas in certain use cases over the next few decades if energy firms can mass-produce the clean-burning fuel without reliance on fossil-fuels. Natural gas companies can even use their current infrastructure for hydrogen distribution, which we’ll get into more later.

Hydrogen Economy in Action

The hydrogen economy is not a futuristic vision, as hydrogen is already used extensively in oil refining and fertilizer production through the 113-year-old Haber-Bosch process. Of the roughly 100 million tons of hydrogen consumed, only about 1 million is clean. Experimentation within this existing hydrogen industry, while focusing on infrastructure and affordability, is a prudent approach moving forward.

While hydrogen may be technologically appealing, its role as a transitional bridge for the traditional energy industry may be more influential in its growing prominence. Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore see hydrogen as key to their carbon neutrality goals, and while China isn’t convinced, it’s set to play one of the larger parts. 

The notion of substantial East Asian hydrogen demand has sparked imaginations in the Hydrogen Council, drawing parallels with global trade in oil and gas. There is hope that flows of hydrogen and ammonia, derived from hydrogen, might follow the traditional paths of hydrocarbons from North America, North Africa, and the Middle East to importers in Europe and Asia.

Evidence of this trend can be seen in recent moves by CF Industries, the largest ammonia producer in the US, which has finalized a deal to export blue ammonia to Japan's largest power utility, and another $2 billion deal with South Korean firm Lotte.

Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company, is aiming to ship 11 million tons of blue ammonia to global markets by 2030. However, it's allegedly struggled to find buyers as the current cost is equivalent to a $250 per barrel of oil.

Why Green Hydrogen?

Green hydrogen can be used as a fuel for numerous sectors of industry. For instance, it could replace fossil fuels in steel making, shipping, cement manufacturing, and other high-energy-demand sectors.

Moreover, it can power transportation, from personal vehicles to cargo ships and freight trains. For example, the US just saw its first hydrogen-powered ferry prepare for service. However, critics suggest that the focus should be on industrial applications rather than transport and electricity generation.

The International Energy Agency anticipates green hydrogen could fulfill 10% of global energy needs by 2050. If optimistic projections hold true, green hydrogen could reduce global carbon emissions by 5%, or potentially more, playing a critical role in curbing global warming.

Take steelmaking, for example. As it stands now, existing technology can deliver 85% of the emissions reductions needed by 2030, but is mainly unused by the steel industry due to cost constraints.

The Climate Action 100+ coalition, which manages over $55T in assets, previously called for urgent actions by steelmakers on carbon emissions to align their capital expenditure with net-zero targets.

As steelmakers change from cheap coal to more expensive natural gas or hydrogen, clean steelmaking can be 50-80% more expensive. CA100+ currently estimates the total cost to reach net-zero across the entire steel industry could be around $1.3 trillion. Technological advancements like combustion efficiency will be needed to compensate for higher costs.

With steel production emissions required to fall 29% by 2030 and 91% by 2050, the industry will have to accelerate its transition to emerging technology.

ArcelorMittal has an innovative direct reduced-iron approach that aims to make steel in furnaces with hydrogen fuel. However, the company estimates the cost to meet net-zero targets for its operations in Europe alone could reach $65B, so more R&D subsidies from the government could help.

Another innovative idea aims to reduce the emissions from steel by 90% through a "closed loop" carbon recycling adapter that can be applied to existing furnaces. As you can see, a mix of solutions will be needed to decarbonize heavy industry like steel.

How to Make Green Hydrogen at scale?

To make green hydrogen at a scale necessary for it to be an affordable alternative to fossil fuels, many challenges need to be overcome. Notably, the process requires significant amounts of renewable electricity.

This is why energy consortiums, like one led by BP in Australia, are looking to construct enormous renewable energy infrastructures such as solar farms and wind turbines to generate the required electricity.

However, these large-scale projects often face logistical challenges, from land acquisition to building the necessary supporting infrastructure. Hydrogen's role in the energy transition is touted due to its high burn temperature and the sole byproduct of its combustion - water.

Even still, the potential of green hydrogen as an emissions-free energy source has attracted billions in investment from governments, industries, and companies worldwide. In an optimistic scenario, it could reduce global carbon emissions by 5% or more, playing a crucial role in mitigating climate change.

What are Hydrogen’s Downsides? 

Employing hydrogen as an energy store proves to be highly inefficient and costly, with the electrolysis equipment required being expensive and energy-demanding. A significant hurdle for green hydrogen production involves the shipping and storage of the hydrogen.

Hydrogen's volatile nature requires massive investments in storage and transportation facilities. To be liquefied for transport, hydrogen needs to be cooled to nearly absolute zero, while also being highly flammable, presenting significant logistical and safety challenges.

And as more investments are put into decarbonization, demand for minerals such as copper could increase by 600% over the next ten years. Developing countries, such as Chile, could potentially benefit from this wave as major exporters of these minerals. Interestingly, Chile sees green hydrogen as its next big export by 2040. But this could also put more price pressure on critical minerals that are already strained. 

Hydrogen is envisioned to have annual consumption exceeding 600 million tons by 2050, compared to today's 100 million tons. This surge would monopolize a large portion of green electricity production, as demonstrated by the Hydrogen Council's scenario wherein 650 gigawatts of the US's 2,900 gigawatts of renewable energy would be used by hydrogen electrolysis.

Achieving this would be no easy feat. This level of production would require enormous investment, potentially in the tens of trillions of dollars, needing simultaneous advances in hydrogen production, transport, and consumption.

For example, a recent report from BloombergNEF found that global electrolyzer installations could grow 120x from only 2GW in November of 2022 to 242GW by 2030, at the cost of $130 billion. To meet current demand, "electrolyzer production" needs to grow 91x by that time.

The Hydrogen Plans of the Major Players

Over 30 countries released official hydrogen roadmaps to ramp up hydrogen infrastructure. G7 economies unveiled a Hydrogen Pact to accelerate the development of clean hydrogen. The group planned to institute regulatory frameworks around hydrogen that it hoped would tackle the ongoing energy crisis. 

Over the past six years, significant alliances have formed around a hydrogen-based economy, with the Hydrogen Council garnering backing from corporations and governments globally. It reported a staggering $320 billion in announced hydrogen projects worldwide. Here’s a summary of some of those initiatives:

US hydrogen plans  

In a bold bet, the US has ramped up its efforts to develop clean hydrogen production over the past two years. A new injection of $1 billion in demand-side initiatives, in addition to the existing $7 billion in hydrogen supply subsidies and generous tax credits, marks the US government's intensified push for a successful hydrogen strategy. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has called for feedback on the most effective mechanisms to boost demand for clean hydrogen, with the deadline set for July 24.

Under the Paris Agreement, the US set an ambitious target to decrease greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030. From there, it has to achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2035, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. To pull this off, the US passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in November 2021, dedicating $8 billion to the DOE's Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program (H2Hubs) for creating a network of clean hydrogen producers.

For the initial funding opportunity, the DOE plans to select six to eight H2Hubs, allocating up to $6 to $7 billion in federal funds. To further support clean hydrogen production, the IRA has introduced a new hydrogen production tax credit and increased the existing tax credit for carbon sequestration used in "blue" hydrogen production.

These financial incentives are geared towards achieving the DOE's Hydrogen Shot, a June 2021 initiative aiming to slash the cost of clean hydrogen by 80 percent to $1 per kilogram within a decade.

The US government announced an additional $1 billion from the BIL funding on July 5. The funds are designed to support the early years of clean hydrogen production and ensure commercial viability by encouraging private investment. The administration has shifted its focus from supply-side to demand-side issues to minimize investment risks associated with clean hydrogen projects.

In a parallel move, the DOE issued a notice of intent to gather information on how to structure demand-side support mechanisms. These mechanisms may include pay-for-delivery contracts, offtake backstops, feasibility funding for offtakers, or other measures to enhance the clean hydrogen demand and revenue certainty for H2Hubs. Responses are expected by July 24.

A brief titled "The Economics of Demand-Side Support for the Department of Energy’s Clean Hydrogen Hubs" was published on July 5. The brief emphasized the need to expand clean hydrogen capacity to achieve the US's net-zero emission goals and noted that demand-side support can accelerate market growth. It highlighted regulatory certainty and contracts for differences as crucial mechanisms to unlock the full potential of supply-side investments.

The course correction to prioritize demand-side support for hydrogen appears well grounded, given the risk of market failure. It's yet to be seen if tools like advance market commitments and contracts for differences agreements can ensure demand certainty to attract necessary investors and users.

The Biden administration has undertaken significant efforts to refocus the national hydrogen strategy, addressing issues with demand-side economics, as per the US. National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap from June 2023.

What are the roadblocks to green hydrogen in the US? 

Potential roadblocks to US hydrogen production include environmental, technical, and political challenges that could slow down or derail the program. Specifically, practical issues such as the scarcity of freshwater supplies needed for green hydrogen production, and the lack of infrastructure for storing and transporting hydrogen, pose significant operational challenges.

The administration identified multiple challenges that could obstruct the widespread use of hydrogen. These include lack of infrastructure, insufficient manufacturing capabilities, cost-related issues, reliability problems, as well as difficulties in identifying buyers who can absorb hydrogen production affordably and sign long-term contracts.

Water Scarcity: The application by Corpus Christi, Texas, for a regional H2Hub highlighted the issue of water scarcity in drought-stricken areas. Over 25% of the 33 shortlisted H2Hub projects are in water-stressed areas, necessitating strategic solutions to address community concerns.

Transportation and Storage: The lack of infrastructure for hydrogen transportation and storage presents considerable challenges. There are also concerns regarding the condition of existing infrastructure, and substantial investments will be needed for new pipelines and storage facilities.

Political Considerations: As the hydrogen strategy aims to reduce GHG emissions by replacing fossil fuels, there are mixed reactions due to ESG considerations. Both red and blue state coalitions have submitted applications for the H2Hub program, showing bipartisan support.

The DOE and applicants will need to respond to potential challenges against ESG considerations, given recent political developments such as investigations into the EPA’s proposed New Source Performance Standards emissions rule and potential antitrust violations related to ESG-driven decarbonization strategies.

Moreover, the US is also facing potential political backlash from the growing anti-ESG movement. The country also faces international pressure from the EU, following the passage of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

And the EU, which is scaling up its own hydrogen production program and establishing a European Hydrogen Bank, is challenging US dominance in the sector.

Europe’s hydrogen plans 

The US hydrogen strategy is under scrutiny from the EU, which has been rivaling the US in clean energy developments. EU nations grappling with a gas crisis have shown major interest in hydrogen. Europe has what’s called the REPowerEU strategy, the EU’s $317 billion plan to end its dependence on Russian oil within the next four years. The target is to domestically produce 10 million tons (MT)  of green hydrogen (and import another 10 MT) to replace gas by the end of the decade. 

Europe was the main destination for US LNG last year, and the US intends to continue to fuel Europe. This was both a lifeline and a drain on Europe. So as the global economy shifts in the direction of a hydrogen-based economy (should that come to pass), both sides will want to reconcile this new energy partnership for their own benefit.

But to achieve a domestic production target of 10 MT of renewable hydrogen, around 80 to 100 GW of electrolyzer output capacity and approximately 150 to 210 GW of additional renewable electricity capacity are required. This translates to an estimated total investment of 335 to 471 billion euros, with an additional 500 billion euros needed for international value chains for importing the targeted 10 MT of renewable hydrogen.

With billions flowing into hydrogen, the EU now needs to set up new rules for what counts as “green hydrogen” to avoid greenwashing. The plan will also remove regulatory bottlenecks that delay green energy projects. One of the goals of the project was to mandate a one-year deadline for project permits. Permit rules in many European countries are complex, notably in Greece, where eight years is typical for approval of wind energy projects. 

The EU's proposed Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) aims to ramp up EU manufacturing of key carbon-neutral technologies, while its Critical Raw Materials Act ensures a stable supply of essential raw materials. And in response to the US subsidies, the EU plans to set up a European Hydrogen Bank to promote sustainable hydrogen production and establish reliable supply chains.

In an effort to defuse the trade disputes, US President Joe Biden and EC President Ursula von der Leyen agreed in March to engage in a dialogue on subsidy transparency, emphasizing their commitment to a cooperative, rather than competitive, approach to clean energy. Tensions persist, with the EU Parliament’s Committee on International Trade proposing anti-dumping tariffs on US hydrogen as recently as July 4.

Both the EU and the US want to become their own “hydrogen hub” to ship clean hydrogen to other nations. 

In the US, Texas has been proposed as a potential hydrogen hub due to the potential to convert its existing fossil fuel infrastructure into what’s needed for hydrogen. Since oil companies already have a lot of the infrastructure in place, most plan to utilize hydrogen in some capacity as a transition fuel while they weigh their options in the changing landscape. One of the oil industry's top bankers wants Houston to use its large-scale fossil-fuel infrastructure to transition to clean energy as a leader in hydrogen and carbon capture. 

It’ll take more than pipelines to export this hydrogen to the EU. There is now a framework for shipping hydrogen, and Japan and the US will collaborate to develop their own green shipping corridor. Japan previously approved production of a long-distance hydrogen carrier vessel from Kawasaki Heavy. The ship has 100x the hydrogen carrying capacity of previous models. Its new engine could soon make liquid hydrogen the fuel of choice for long-distance maritime travel. 

For its part, Europe plans to stage its own series of hydrogen hubs. In the Netherlands, regions previously serving as global natural gas trading hubs are now vying for the title of Europe's "hydrogen valley." Likewise, Germany and Italy have committed to the SoutH2 Corridor, a pipeline for carrying H2, while France has persuaded Spain to agree to a subsea hydrogen connection over a natural gas pipeline by 2030 in the North Sea with the use of offshore wind to create the hydrogen. The EU and Norway recently formed their own green alliance in the region, focused on hydrogen production and carbon capture. 

What are the roadblocks to hydrogen in the EU? 

How much hydrogen will be produced in Europe remains uncertain. Some analysts have proposed that plans to produce green hydrogen with offshore wind could be up to 10x more expensive than importing expensive LNG, citing a deck from DNV that allegedly fails to account for the high costs and operational complexities of offshore facilities, overestimates hydrogen demand, and uses unrealistic assumptions about transmission and pipeline efficiencies. In a best case scenario, manufacturing and transmitting hydrogen offshore is still 4.5x more expensive than current methods, making green hydrogen financially unfeasible.

The EU will test its European Hydrogen Bank (EHB) strategy in an autumn auction later this year. The EHB aims to lower hydrogen prices by subsidizing production, similar to the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme for renewables. The auction will offer financial instruments, similar to CfDs, to provide renewable energy developers with guaranteed, long-term revenue.

The creation of the EHB is to bridge the investment gap and accelerate the achievement of its ambitious hydrogen targets by lowering the cost gap between renewable hydrogen and today’s oil and gas products.

The upcoming pilot auction, with a budget of 800 million euros ($876 million), will offer a subsidy to hydrogen producers in the form of a fixed premium per kilogram of hydrogen produced for a maximum of 10 years of operation. If successful, more funds will be available for later auctions.

This move comes as the European Commission (EC) is under pressure to match the US support for clean hydrogen provided by the Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA’s Clean Hydrogen Production Tax Credit (H2PTC) is estimated to provide around $13 billion in value to the hydrogen industry over the next decade, offering up to $3 per kilogram of hydrogen with credit based on the carbon emission levels.

All this aims to jumpstart Europe’s energy green landscape at least a decade earlier than planned. Another objective is to use green or blue hydrogen or ammonia to find a new niche for the European heavy industry, which faces a risk of being ousted by high energy prices and Europe's carbon levy. 

And hydrogen projects offer an opportunity for renewed European-African cooperation, with Africa's potential for renewable electricity generation being immense. Although, resource allocation, like sourcing water for electrolysis in largely desert countries like Namibia, raises some serious concerns. 

Japan’s hydrogen plans 

Driven by a post-Fukushima shock and an enduring anxiety about energy security, Japan has backed hydrogen as an alternative energy source. The country sees hydrogen as its best bet towards decarbonization. 

Influential Japanese car manufacturers like Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, are supporting government commitments to hydrogen, despite critics suggesting that the focus should be on industrial applications rather than transport and electricity generation. 

For example, Toyota introduced a new portable hydrogen cartridge that can be filled up and returned at dedicated facilities. Toyota and its subsidiary Woven Planet plan to implement the swappable cartridges in transportation as well as for use at home. Each cartridge will initially store enough electricity to power a household microwave for four hours. 

Toyota hopes the cartridges will solve hydrogen’s infrastructure issues since the gas is typically expensive to store and transport. The company will test all the limits of hydrogen use at a prototype “human-centered city of the future” called Woven City in Japan. If its initial trials from 2022 are successful, the cartridges will be used to expand hydrogen infrastructure and power everything from airplanes to smart cities of the future. 

Hydrogen power is most suited for trains and air transportation, where electrification is difficult. The cartridges could help the aviation sector reach its goals of carbon neutrality. Most recently, Toyota upgraded its hydrogen combustion engine in an effort to sell more hydrogen fuel cells outside of Japan. 

If dedicated delivery facilities are scaled up, it would make hydrogen buses and cars, such as the Toyota Mirai, more appealing. Toyota has already promised to make hydrogen fuel-cell modules for semi-trucks in the US, starting in 2023.4

Researchers also recently made progress towards hydrogen fuel cells that can reverse power back to the grid, which would make fuel cell vehicles more useful as a back-up power source (like EVs and their batteries). 

Toyota’s hydrogen cartridges could also be the solution to the problem of hydrogen leaks, since cartridges would eliminate the need for pipes. Hydrogen leaks are expected to make global warming worse over the next two decades if not addressed

Another, alternative technique can produce hydrogen on-site at fueling stations with ethanol and water. This would eliminate the need to transport hydrogen so that only ethanol would have to be carried to stations by trucks. A separate study suggested that solar energy could be converted into renewable hydrogen, which would be key to production of hydrogen at scale

Outside of Toyota, offshore wind will power Japan’s biggest green hydrogen plant as Japan aims for 40% renewable power by 2030. Two Japanese energy companies, Energy provider Eneos and plant engineer Chiyoda, will build a new type of clean hydrogen facility by 2030 that will use a process that can create electrolysis for green hydrogen at one-third the current cost. 

The Japanese partners will now have to find a location where they can build this new plant. In order for electrolysis to be green, electrolyzers need to use renewable power. Australia is one possible location due to the country’s cheap renewable energy sources.

Lastly, while its not a "green hydrogen", the Japanese industrial machinery producer Ebara wants to make and commercialize “turquoise hydrogen” as an alternative to green hydrogen by 2026.

China’s hydrogen plans 

China seems to have a lack of enthusiasm for hydrogen compared to its focus on electrification through renewable generation and batteries, but its massive solar and wind power installations and leading role in it. China is on track to have 1 terawatt of renewable power by 2030. The country is currently the leading producer of green hydrogen electrolyzers and could use the fuel for large scale energy storage by the end of the decade. 

Cities, oil producers, and automakers in China are all investing in clean hydrogen. Specifically, Sinopec will retrofit over 1,000 existing gas stations to provide hydrogen fuel by 2025.

Analysts project that China will be the cheapest place to produce hydrogen in the long run, with the US in ninth place. But further innovations that deliver more competitive prices could narrow that lead.

Green Hydrogen Companies 

Major oil and energy companies back the Hydrogen Council, as hydrogen allows existing fossil fuel interests to envision a role in the new energy landscape.  Fossil fuel producers are now in a unique position. As they profit from oil price increases, they can also partially control the renewable transition as major investors in “green tech.” They can transition their facilities to green fuels, switch from gas to hydrogen combustion, and tackle issues of intermittency in renewable power generation. 

  • BP purchased a 40.5% stake in an Australian renewable energy facility that may become one of the world's biggest producers of green hydrogen. The project, which would generate 26 GW of energy, equivalent to a third of Australia's grid, through a solar and wind hub 8x larger than New York City, with 1,743 wind turbines and approximately 10 million solar panels. The generated energy will bypass the public grid to manufacture green hydrogen directly. 
  • BP previously announced a $10 billion stake in the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, one of the world’s biggest efforts to produce green hydrogen as part of its climate goal to develop 50GW net of renewables by 2030. And BP also has plans for a large-scale green hydrogen production plant in Spain and another in northeast England, generated with wind, water and solar energy. The project, HyGreen Teesside, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce 500 MW of green hydrogen by 2030.   
  • Plans are underway to repurpose parts of a former BP oil refinery into a green hydrogen plant. Fortescue Metals Group, the owner of Christmas Creek mine, plans to transition its mining operations to run on electric batteries, green hydrogen, and green ammonia, a fuel derived from hydrogen.
  • Australia’s largest mining company, FMG, wants to transition to produce 15 million tons of green hydrogen a year by 2030. FMG believes it can obtain power at $5000 per megawatt then sell it as hydrogen at $200,000. However, to do that, FMG would need to produce nearly 3x the electricity produced by all of Australia. The project’s early focus would be to power 1,300 heavy trucks with fuel cells rather than diesel. 
  • French oil company TotalEnergies SE and Indian coal producer Adani offered to fund billions of dollars worth of green hydrogen development in India (before Adani had its very public battle with a short seller over the way it funded its business). 
  • US power company NextEra announced it would spend up to $95 billion between by 2025 to decarbonize its gas plants in Florida and convert them to run on hydrogen. 
  • SoCalGas also began a series of pilot tests to blend hydrogen with natural gas. SoCalGas aims to be “net-zero” by 2045 and unveiled plans to build an H2 Hydrogen Home
  • Several other energy firms in the US have launched tests of a 5% hydrogen blend to see how it affects pipes and equipment. Dominion has one such test in Utah and proposed another in North Carolina. GE has over 74 turbines that use hydrogen.
  • The Norwegian state-backed energy company has mapped out a vision for investors that demonstrates how clean forms of hydrogen will become economically viable this decade
  • Siemens Energy, Equinor and SSE have invested in green and blue hydrogen plants, anticipating its use for transport and heavy industry, and then for large-scale electricity
  • In South Korea, Hyundai launched a group of fifteen South Korean companies to form an H2 business council. The council plans to spend over $37B by 2030 to build out its domestic hydrogen industry. 
  • SK Group plans to install over 100 hydrogen fueling stations by the end of the decade. The conglomerate also plans to build a hydrogen complex at the Hyundai manufacturing base over the next five years.

In total, the global output of green hydrogen is expected to increase 18x (and counting) by 2030. If the targets from the hydrogen agreement set forth in September 2022 are met, total blue and green hydrogen production could reach as high as 90x by 2030.

What's the Verdict? 

The success of these endeavors will hinge on the ability to navigate commercial, practical, and political obstacles while staying committed to its green energy goals. Everything from economic growth to job creation and of course, environmental sustainability is at stake.

The question, ultimately, is whether this push towards a hydrogen economy is a genuine attempt at innovative green energy or merely a minimally disruptive continuation of the current hydrocarbon energy system. Skepticism is warranted given the immense political capital, subsidies, and time invested in these projects. And yet, risk-taking and experimentation could lead to valuable learning experiences. Determining the legitimacy of these projects will require public, scientific, and technical scrutiny, along with retrospective cost-benefit assessments.

Determining the legitimacy of these projects will require public, scientific, and technical scrutiny, along with retrospective cost-benefit assessments. Given the blend of ambition, vested interests, and skepticism, vigilance will be key in distinguishing true innovation from self-serving conservatism in this emergent hydrogen landscape.

Related Posts