High time for hydrogen

Hydrogen can be a key energy source in the quest to reach net zero.

Hydrogen can be utilised to store surplus renewable power, decarbonise sectors that are hard to electrify and replace fossil fuels, making it highly valuable in the battle against climate change, argue Dan Watson and Amanda Woods, respectively the head of sustainability and the chief investment officer of Amber Infrastructure.

“Hydrogen is one of the few sources of energy that can address a very wide range of energy demands,” they say in a joint statement to Infrastructure Investor. “These demands are met through existing industrial and chemical applications as well as for future clean transport, heating and storage. It can also meet electricity grid balancing and long-term energy storage requirements that will be vital in a zero-emission energy system.”

Global hydrogen demand

Figures from the International Energy Agency reveal that the global demand for hydrogen will need to more than double from its existing level of consumption of 87 million tonnes to 212 million tonnes by 2030 if the world is to meet climate targets.

“Hydrogen must find the demand to meet the predicted production volumes,” say Watson and Woods. “This means being first to market in certain sectors where alternative clean fuels are being developed, like biofuels for transport and heating, or potential step change improvements in electric battery technologies [or] modular nuclear low-enriched uranium power plants.”

“We have the opportunity to lead the world in hydrogen production. But to do that, we need to start now”

Jo Bamford
Ryze Hydrogen and Wrightbus

Jo Bamford, owner of Ryze Hydrogen and Wrightbus, which produced the first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus, argues that the UK can be a leader in hydrogen. In September, Bamford launched a £1 billion ($1.4 billion; €1.2 billion) investment vehicle to finance green hydrogen projects. The fund will invest in helping UK businesses drive hydrogen production and supply, create jobs and support the government’s goal of net zero.

“We have the opportunity to lead the world in hydrogen production,” says Bamford. “But to do that, we need to start now. It may not be the perfect solution – nothing is – but we can make a real difference to the planet by investing now in all our futures.”

Hydrogen usage is particularly prominent in Europe, but there are signs Asia-Pacific and the US are catching up. “Until a few years ago, most of the focus on decarbonisation was in Europe,” says Jaspal Phull, senior vice-president of real assets manager research at Redington. “However, in the last year there have been net-zero declarations from China, Japan, South Korea and the US. Therefore, considering hydrogen as a low-carbon energy vector has also grown.”