IEA Plugs Hydrogen for Green Future
Hydrogen is becoming a critical part of a more sustainable and secure energy future, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report commissiond by the Japanese government and published June 14.
Launching The Future of Hydrogen: Seizing Today’s Opportunities at the G20 meeting in Tokyo, the IEA head Fatih Birol said that clean hydrogen enjoys strong support from governments and businesses around the world, with the number of policies and projects expanding rapidly.
The report recommends immediate, pragmatic steps to foster hydrogen’s development,” he said. And “the world should not miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future.”
The IEA has some recommendations that will speed up the adoption of hydrogen, including making industrial ports the nerve centres for scaling up clean hydrogen; using existing natural gas pipelines; and using hydrogen to power cars, trucks and buses that run on key routes.
The report notes that producing hydrogen from low-carbon energy is costly at the moment and developing hydrogen infrastructure is slow and holding back widespread adoption. And in some places there are regulatory resrictions limiting its growth. Hydrogen is already being used on an industrial scale, but it is almost entirely supplied from natural as and coal.
Reducing emissions from existing hydrogen production is a challenge but also represents an opportunity to increase the scale of clean hydrogen worldwide. One approach is to capture and store or utilise the CO2from hydrogen production from fossil fuels. Another approach is for industries to secure greater supplies of hydrogen from clean electricity.
Expanding the use of clean hydrogen in other sectors – such as cars, trucks, steel and heating buildings – is another big task. There are today around 11,200 hydrogen-powered cars on the road worldwide but existing government targets call for 2.5mn by 2030.
The IEA says it will remain focused on hydrogen, further expanding its expertise in order to monitor progress and provide guidance on technologies, policies and market design.
Commentators point out that the present energy transition is like no other before it. Governments have to lower their countries' emissions of carbon dioxide, but there is no single route to that goal; and getting it wrong risks a waste of money, effort and time. This was not the case with previous energy transitions where the discovery or application of a fuel offers immediate and clear practical and commercial advantages, such as the use of oil in shipping instead of coal, which industry was quick to adopt.