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Hydrogen development is not taking off fast enough

30 August 2022

If the Paris Agreement's climate goals are to be reached, hydrogen must account for 15 percent of the world's energy mix in 2050. But according to a new forecast from DNV, hydrogen will only account for five percent of the energy mix.

"Clearly, much stronger policies are needed globally to push hydrogen to levels required to meet the Paris Agreement. Here it is instructive to look at the enabling policies in Europe where hydrogen will likely be 11% of the energy mix by 2050," writes Remy Eriksen, CEO of DNV in the foreword to the report Hydrogen forecast to 2050.

According to the Norwegian classification society, the EU is leading the way with its green initiative, Fit for 55, and investments in the development of green technology. The EU has several funding programs and the Clean Hydrogen Partnership was recently established where authorities and industry invest one billion euros each to accelerate hydrogen development.

Hydrogen is expensive, requires a complex infrastructure for supply and has safety disadvantages compared to direct use of electricity.

Hydrogen is essential to decarbonize sectors that cannot be electrified like aviation, maritime, and high-heat manufacturing and should therefore be prioritized for these sectors. But it won't occupy a major share of the market until the end of the next decade.”

For ocean-going vessels, there are no battery-electric alternatives and DNV predicts that synthetic fuels, ammonia, hydrogen and biofuels will show the way to fossil-free shipping.

These high-cost fuels have the advantage that they can also be implemented in hybrid configurations on ships running on diesel or LNG. According to DNV's forecast, these fuels will make up roughly 42% of the maritime fuel mix in 2050.

Hydrogen will primarily be used as a direct energy source in the manufacturing industry, while hydrogen carriers such as ammonia and methanol will have a dominant role in aviation and shipping. The advantages of ammonia are several. It has a higher energy density than hydrogen, which makes it easier to transport and the risk of explosion is also smaller. The major disadvantage is that it is toxic.

The hydrogen supply and its infrastructure is a major challenge. DNV predicts that 50 percent of the world's hydrogen pipelines will consist of reused natural gas pipelines. In pipes, hydrogen will be transported within and between countries, but not between continents. Due to low energy density and the fact that the process of liquefying hydrogen is too expensive, it will also not be transported by ships across oceans. Hydrogen is best suited to be produced and used locally.

To the report

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