Last month the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its Global Hydrogen Review, a worldwide in-depth analysis of this vector of energy that could play an important role in decarbonising carbon-intensive economies. Jordan Hairabedian from EcoAct’s Climate Innovation & Knowledge Center (CLICK) looks at the report and the core challenges of hydrogen.
The energy system transition is already underway in many sectors and regions according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, investments in and deployment of low-carbon technologies are still well behind what is required to limit global warming to 1.5oC above pre-industrial conditions. Hydrogen is touted as having the potential to drive deep emissions reductions needed for a net-zero scenario. However, several core challenges have to be solved in order to unlock this potential.
Hydrogen is often seen as a key lever for the decarbonisation of the energy sector. However, it is important to bear in mind the current landscape of the hydrogen sector today:
Unlocking hydrogen’s decarbonising potential
Because of its reliance on fossil fuels, the present day snapshot of hydrogen is far from green. A rapid shift to low-carbon production is needed to ensure its decarbonisation potential.
The IEA urges governments to lead on policy and develop strategies to accelerate the adoption of hydrogen as a clean fuel. It believes that concrete targets for deploying low-carbon production will help to build stakeholder confidence in the potential market for low-carbon hydrogen. The growing interest in green hydrogen is a vital first step, which hopefully will create momentum and trigger more investments to scale up and accelerate deployment.
According to the IEA hydrogen will play a key role in its Net Zero Scenario (NZE). In this scenario:
The “well below 2°C” pathway which has similar hydrogen volume projections to that of NZE, states the following:
In order to overcome the challenges of hydrogen and build a decarbonised hydrogen sector, states and industries need to consider these steps:
The urgent need for deep decarbonization is growing as the window for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change narrows. To reach net-zero by 2050 we need solutions now. Renewable or “green” hydrogen looks likely to be one of the solutions for the deep decarbonization needed by the energy system. However, though progress in hydrogen technologies is increasing it still falls well short of what is needed in the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.
For now, the IEA believes more efforts are required in demand creation and in reducing emissions associated with hydrogen production before it can start delivering on its potential as a green alternative to traditional fossil fuels and help in the global transition to net-zero.
As the worldwide focus on net-zero intensifies, it will be increasingly important to have the fundamentals right – data, energy management, reporting – if we are going to cope with the growing demands for accountability and succeed in our urgent climate ambitions.
This Energy Management Factsheet includes:
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