The production of low-emission hydrogen will go from less than a million tons in 2021 to between 16 and 24 million in 2030 if the projects in the pipeline come to fruition, according to the International Energy Agency, which believes that the figure could be much higher. if climate commitments are met.
In a report dedicated to the development of the hydrogen sector in the world published this Thursday, the IEA explains that global demand in 2021 reached 94 million tons, above the previous record of 91 million in 2019.
But so-called low-emission hydrogen accounted for less than a million tons, and almost all of it was generated in plants that burn fossil fuels and then capture carbon emissions for storage or use. In other words, the use of renewable energies was minimal.
With the policies that are applied now, the total production will reach 115 million tons in 2030 and low-emission hydrogen could account for 20% at most.
But the agency estimates that if governments fully meet their climate commitments, that number could rise to 130 million, with the percentage of low emissions exceeding 25%.
The authors of the report believe that in that horizon the so-called green hydrogen could be competitive with the “grey”, which uses fossil fuels, in the regions that have good resources in renewable energies.
That would need to complete ongoing projects for electrolyzers, the devices needed to produce hydrogen from renewable energy. This would go from 0.5 gigawatts of installed capacity in 2021 to 290 gigawatts in 2030.
Global electrolyser manufacturing capacity is 8 gigawatts per year, but according to industry announcements, it could exceed 60 gigawatts per year by 2030.
If the scheduled electrolyser projects are completed and that increase in manufacturing capacities is met, costs could be reduced by 70% by the beginning of the next decade compared to today.
The IEA insists that for low-emission hydrogen to stop having the marginal role it now plays, “greater political support” is needed.
In his opinion, hydrogen and derived fuels can contribute both to climate ambitions and to energy security “if they are produced cleanly and used intelligently in sectors such as heavy industry and long-distance transport where they can reduce emissions and replace fossil fuels.
Its general director, Fatih Birol, assured that “there are increasing indications that hydrogen will be an important element of the transition towards an affordable, safe and clean energy system, but great advances are still needed in technology, regulation and demand to develop its full potential.
“Governments -added Birol- now have to apply specific policies to eliminate regulatory barriers and support projects ready to be executed”.