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Hydrogen will help transition to a cleaner energy future

by Andrea Zanon 6 months ago in Climate
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As the international community recovers from the unsuccessful COP26 Climate Summit, there is hope that through Green Hydrogen the world can move towards a more resilient and competitive future

Source: Prnewswire

As I predicted in my article of Nov 11, 2021, The UN COP26 Climate Summit in the UK Will help build momentum but it will disappoint many, the UN Conference was overshadowed by the realization that governments would not agree to act quickly enough to stop global warming. As I explained, the COP26 would build good momentum towards a greener future but would not gain the Government commitments needed to reach zero net emission by 2050. Progress however should be applauded, among the most concrete achievements, the following are the most notable: a) The G20 committed to stop financing of international coal powerplants; b) The Global Methane Pledge Initiative was supported by over 100 countries to reduce by 30% methane emission by 2030 (Methane as 80 times more global warming power than CO2); and c) The top forest countries in the world agreed to stop deforestation by 2025. As I take stock of what happened at the Cop26, and analyze the plans for the COP28 (In Cairo, Egypt) and Cop29 (In Abhu-Dabi, UAE), I share my thoughts about Green Hydrogen, as I believe it is the most viable alternative source for a cleaner energy future.

A bit of background on Hydrogen. Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe. On Earth, though, it rarely exists as a gas, so it needs to be separated from other elements. Hydrogen can be produced from fossil fuels, nuclear energy, biomass and renewable energy sources. The one generated via renewable energy means, is the cleanest form. Green Hydrogen uses water electrolysis fueled by renewable energy, and it is the most promising energy source to reduce our dependence on coal, oil and natural gas. Global interest is rising fast driven by market forces, and by a more coordinated dialogue between policy makers, energy producers, and technology providers to ensure the development of rapid offering of Green Hydrogen. It is all very promising; however, the pricing challenge need first to be resolved. Green Hydrogen cost more compared to grey and Blue Hydrogens, both of which are still produced from more polluting fossil fuels. For Green Hydrogen to be competitive, costs must be driven down to below $2/kg (hydrogen from renewable sources cost between $6 to $12 per Kg). Perhaps a way to get there, is to accelerate the production of the most cost-effective Blue Hydrogen to pave the way for a future dominated by Green Hydrogen. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are the leaders in Blue Hydrogen production, and they use Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) recycling carbon dioxide for other uses, when hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels. These countries are investing massively in Blue Hydrogen to reach their decarbonization targets and shift their economies towards a more Environmental, Social and Governance focused approach. What makes Blue Hydrogen interesting, is that it can be produced at US$ 2.27/kg (according to the US Department of Energy) and with a much lower carbon footprint than Grey Hydrogen.

Back to Green Hydrogen. Its versatility and its climate friendly nature makes it highly competitive and timely, and as explained by hydrogen experts and the International Energy Agency (IEA), hydrogen is attractive because: a) It can be used as the storage mechanism for intermittent renewable energy; b) It can become the fuel for trucks, ships and planes (and other energy intensive industries); and c) It can use existing natural gas pipelines and heat people’s homes.

A few Green Hydrogen accomplishments at the Climate Summit COP26. This good momentum for Green Hydrogen is further celebrated by the following recent commitments:

a) A major outcome of COP26 was the Breakthrough Agenda, a commitment signed by 42 countries (including the US, India, EU and China) to work together in the 2020s to accelerate actions needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Breakthroughs include a 'hydrogen breakthrough' objective which is to ensure affordable low-carbon hydrogen is globally available by 2030.

b) The World Economic Forum launched the 'Green Hydrogen Toolbox', to provide policymakers policies best practices to fast track the adoption and deployment of green hydrogen

c) The United Arab Emirates and Germany deepened their partnership to accelerate their cooperation on Green Hydrogen. The UAE separately announced its 'Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap' and is targeting a 25% global market share of low-carbon hydrogen by 2030. The UAE aims to showcase its Hydrogen developments during the COP28 which will be organized in Abu Dhabi.

d) Japan announced a US$100 million investment for the conversion of fossil-fired plants into ammonia-and hydrogen-based plants. Japan has also committed to ramp-up rapidly its Green Hydrogen investment.

If we add all the existing Green Hydrogen Projects, the existing Green Hydrogen projects (which have been approved); and the timely commitment made during the COP26, Green Hydrogen becomes the front runner to help the world reach the decarbonization objectives outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. This will help keep the temperature below 1.5°C as compared to the pre-industrial era, and thus avoid the worst-case climate scenarios which could cost 11 to 14 per cent off global economic output (Source: Swiss-Re 2020).

Climate

About the author

Andrea Zanon

Andrea Zanon is a Founder, CEO and experienced technology and impact entrepreneur who has made powerful strides in his career. He is currently the CEO of WeEmpower Capital, which he founded in early 2018 and which promotes ESG.

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