The world’s supply of clean hydrogen could run out


Illustration courtesy of DNV

Posted on June 15, 2022 10:26 PM by

The Maritime Executive

According to DNV, the world will likely miss the opportunity to put hydrogen at the heart of a zero-emissions future, despite an emerging consensus that low-carbon, renewable hydrogen will play an important role in decarbonizing energy systems. .

In its first stand-alone prediction of hydrogen in the energy transition to 2050, the classification society suggests that hydrogen would need to account for around 15% of global energy demand by mid-century to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.

However, scaling up global hydrogen use will require overcoming serious challenges, including availability, cost, acceptability and safety. It won’t be easy, and DNV predicts that the amount of hydrogen in the energy mix will be “very low and late” – just 0.5% in 2030 and 5% in 2050, significantly less than needed to meet the targets. objectives of the Paris Agreement . Even reaching five percent globally would result in the production of more than 200 million tonnes of clean hydrogen per year. (For perspective, Adani Group and TotalEnergies plan to spend $50 billion to build one million tons of green hydrogen capacity, and their project timeline is ten years.)

The report suggests that while hydrogen derivatives such as ammonia and methanol are essential for decarbonizing heavy transport like shipping and aviation, these fuels will not develop until the 2030s. Instead , the first major uses of low-carbon hydrogen are likely to be in heavy industries such as steelmaking and refining, as well as blending with natural gas – i.e. applications where the infrastructure of use of hydrogen is already installed or easily adaptable.

However, in the long term, this scarce resource would be better conserved for applications where electricity is impossible to use directly, advises DNV. “Hydrogen is essential to decarbonize sectors that cannot be electrified such as aviation, marine and high-temperature manufacturing and should therefore be prioritized for these sectors,” said Remi Eriksen, President and CEO. of the DNV group.

The massive resources needed to scale up hydrogen production will be one of the biggest hurdles, given that global spending on hydrogen production for energy purposes by 2050 will be $6.8 trillion. According to DNV, another $180 billion must be spent on hydrogen pipelines and $530 billion on building and operating ammonia terminals.

Class Society predicts electricity-based green hydrogen, which is produced by separating hydrogen from water using electrolysers, will be the dominant form of production by 2050 – accounting for 72% from production. This will require more than double the total installed solar and wind generation capacity today.

Blue hydrogen – produced from natural gas whose emissions are captured – will have a larger role to play in the near term, with around 30% of total production in 2030. However, its competitiveness will likely decline as capacity increases. renewable energy will increase and prices will fall. The global average cost of blue hydrogen will drop from $2.50 per kilo in 2030 to $2.20 per kilo in 2050. Globally, the cost of green hydrogen will drop to match blue hydrogen within a decade and will become the cheapest form of production in most areas.

Hydrogen adoption will vary significantly from region to region, heavily influenced by politics. Europe will be the precursor, with hydrogen representing 11% of the energy mix by 2050. The OECD Pacific will use hydrogen for 8% of its energy needs, North America 7% and China 6%.


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