Industry Pins Net-Zero Carbon Hopes on Hydrogen: Survey
Hydrogen has surged up the priority list of many oil and gas organisations, being seen as the key to global decarbonisation efforts, according to a new survey of over 1,000 senior oil and gas professionals. But it will require concerted effort to make this expectation a reality, according to the report Heading for Hydrogen published May 14 by Norwegian technical advisory firm DNV GL.
The report says that a little over half the sample surveyed in Asia Pacific, Middle East, North Africa and Europe agrees that hydrogen will be a significant part of the energy mix within 10 years. North and Latin America are a little behind, at 40% and 37% of the sample. The proportion intending to invest in the hydrogen economy doubled from 20% to 42% in the year leading up to the coronavirus-induced oil price crash. And a fifth say their company is already actively entering the hydrogen market.
However the report also finds substantial obstacles in its way. "Hydrogen is in the spotlight as the energy transition moves at pace – and rightly so. But to realise its potential, both governments and industry will need to make bold decisions," said the head of DNV GL's oil and gas division, Liv Hovem. "The challenge now is not in the ambition, but in changing the timeline: from hydrogen on the horizon, to hydrogen in our homes, businesses, and transport systems."
The success of a hydrogen energy economy is closely aligned with the future of natural gas, renewable energy, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Analysis shows that while the goal is green hydrogen, using renewable energy to electrolyse water, for example, the sector can only realistically scale up to large volumes and infrastructure with carbon-free hydrogen produced from fossil fuels combined with CCS technology (blue hydrogen).
"To progress to the stage where societies and industry can enjoy the benefits of hydrogen at scale, all stakeholders will need immediate focus on proving safety, enabling infrastructure, scaling carbon capture and storage technology and incentivising value chains through policy," said Hovem.
DNV GL is involved in projects spanning all four of these enabling factors, including the Hy4Heat programme in the UK, which aims to establish whether it is technically possible, safe, and convenient to replace methane with hydrogen in residential and commercial areas.
Tests on three specially constructed houses are proving the safety case for a switch from natural gas to hydrogen in a domestic setting at DNV GL's Spadeadam site. The site used to belong to British Gas, whose engineers would test pipelines and other apparatus to destruction.