Hydrogen is central to reaching the net-zero target

El hidrógeno será fundamental para alcanzar el compromiso de cero emisiones netas contribuyendo al 20% de la reducción mundial necesaria del carbono en 2050

McKinsey & Company and the Hydrogen Council have published their report “Hydrogen for Net Zero”, which reveals new data on the carbon reduction potential of hydrogen, along with the proposed tools and measures ready to be applied, to create political frameworks that favour renewable and low carbon emissions hydrogen.

The report offers a fairly ambitious but realistic scenario to achieve net zero emissions to 2030 and 2050, considering the uses of hydrogen in industry, energy, mobility and buildings. The scenario sets out hydrogen demand in terms of supply, infrastructure, potential abatement and necessary investments, and then compares it with the current momentum and investments in industry, to identify the investment gaps across every value chain and territory.

According to the report, clean, renewable and low carbon emission hydrogen, as a complement to other decarbonisation technologies, such as renewables, biofuels and improvements in energy efficiency, offers the only long-term, scalable and cost-effective option for deep decarbonisation in sectors such as: steel, maritime, aviation and ammonia. To 2050, hydrogen can avoid 80 Gt of cumulative CO2 emissions and contribute to 20% of the total abatement needed, however this requires the use of 660 million Mt of renewable and low carbon hydrogen, equivalent to 22% of global final energy final demand.

Over the coming decade, global demand for renewable and low carbon hydrogen could grow by 50%. By 2030, this would translate into an annual CO2 emissions reduction equivalent to the total volume emitted by the UK, France and Belgium combined. Achieving this step requires a significant increase in production, infrastructure and end-uses. The hydrogen momentum is currently very strong. Comparing the production capacity estimates to 2030 undertaken in the past three years, these have more than tripled every year. Meanwhile, the volume of mature projects has already passed US$80bn.

The hydrogen industry is currently showing strong momentum around the globe, with more than 520 utility-scale projects announced in 2021, 100% up on the previous year; all of which will translate into an investment of US$160bn. However, this only covers 25% of the US$700bn necessary to achieve the deployment laid out in this report to reach net-zero, indicating that US$300bn are required for hydrogen production, US$200bn for infrastructure and US$200bn for hydrogen end-uses.  McKinsey & Company estimate that a 75-tonne deployment of clean hydrogen is needed to 2030.

Early growth in clean hydrogen deployment will most likely centre on Europe, Japan and Korea, which will account for around 30% of the new demand. China and North America, considerably larger hydrogen markets at present, follow with about 20% of clean hydrogen demand each.

The huge surge in projects commissioned in the past year shows that industry is recognising the numerous potential uses for hydrogen. However, the announcement of new projects must be multiplied to take advantage of the full abatement potential of hydrogen. Converting this momentum into real deployment now depends on the right regulatory framework.