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COP26: Hydrogen Council calls on world leaders to back pledges on clean hydrogen investment


Investment at 'critical threshold': Hydrogen Council

Follows international goals on hydrogen, steel, energy

Hydrogen projects up 550% in 2021: Platts Analytics

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  • COP26 Energy Transition Hydrogen: Beyond the Hype

The Hydrogen Council called on world leaders in the public and private sectors to back pledges on clean hydrogen investment and capacity installations with concrete action, saying investment has reached a "critical threshold."

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The call comes a day after a coalition of national leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference signed up to aspirational decarbonization targets in the hydrogen, road transport, energy and steel sectors by 2030.

"Swift uptake of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen by 2030 and expansion to an economy-wide solution by mid century are essential to deliver on global net-zero targets," the Hydrogen Council said in a statement Nov. 3.

"Investment has reached a critical threshold and urgent, decisive policy action is now needed to fully unlock hydrogen's climate and societal benefits," it added.

Hydrogen is a critical element in global decarbonization ambitions, seen as a way to cut emissions in hard-to-electrify sectors such as heavy transport and industry.

The Hydrogen Council said global demand for renewable and low-carbon hydrogen could grow by 50% by 2030, cutting the equivalent annual CO2 emissions of the UK, France and Belgium combined.

However, a significant scaling up of production, infrastructure and end uses was needed to unlock this demand, it added.

"We know from past experiences with technologies such as wind and solar that front-loading investments and policy support in the early market development phase can bring down costs quickly, enabling deployment at pace and scale," Hydrogen Council Executive Director Daryl Wilson said in the statement.

The industry group identifies over 90 GW of announced electrolyzer capacity globally, but said a four-fold increase in investments by 2030 was needed to put the world on course for net zero by 2050.

S&P Global Platts Analytics said the low-emissions hydrogen project pipeline had grown 550% in 2021.

"Despite rapid recent expansion, the clean hydrogen industry has massive growth potential. The entire current pipeline would supply just 33% of 2021 pure hydrogen demand," Platts Analytics said in an Oct. 26 report.

New demand

The Hydrogen Council in its "Hydrogen for net zero" report, also released Nov. 3, said the deployment of 75 million mt of clean hydrogen was needed by 2030 to reach global decarbonization goals.

It sees two-thirds of this demand coming from new markets such as steel, industry, mobility, aviation and shipping.

The clean hydrogen could replace 25 million mt of fossil-fuel derived hydrogen in ammonia, methanol and refining, as well as 50 billion liters of diesel in ground mobility and 60 million mt of coal used for steel production, it said.

The Hydrogen Council also released a "policy toolbox for low-carbon and renewable hydrogen" to guide on effective policy and regulatory measures to underpin investor confidence in the sector, helping to drive down costs and stimulate international trade.

Platts hydrogen price assessments show northwest European and Japanese markets as price takers, with Australia one of several lower-cost renewable hydrogen production sources well placed to develop future exports.

The spread between proton exchange membrane electrolysis assessments (including capex) Nov. 2 showed European prices (Netherlands, $14.03/kg) almost three times those in Australia (New South Wales, $4.85/kg). The comparable assessment for Japan was $12.10/kg.

Glasgow breakthroughs

A group of 40 global leaders at COP26 on Nov. 2 announced 2030 ambitions to make clean technology widely available across a range of sectors, notably in road transport, energy, steel and hydrogen.

The initiative, dubbed "Glasgow Breakthroughs," aims to:

  • Make clean hydrogen available at affordable levels globally.
  • Make clean power the cheapest and most reliable source globally.
  • Make zero-emission vehicles commonplace and affordable.
  • Establish near-zero-emission steel production as the "preferred choice in global markets."

At COP26 Nov. 2, US President Joe Biden said his administration was partnering with the World Economic Forum to launch a "first movers coalition" of companies to build demand for technologies to cut emissions from hard-to-abate sectors, with a focus on renewable hydrogen.

"The coalition represents eight major sectors that comprise 30% of the global emissions we now are dealing with: steel, shipping, aluminum, concrete, trucking, aviation, chemicals, and direct air capture," Biden said.