Thirteen leading energy, transport and industry companies have launched a global initiative to voice a united vision and long-term ambition for hydrogen to foster the energy transition. The CEOs of the thirteen participating companies used the occasion of the World Economic Forum in Davos on 19th January 2016 to kick off this important new initiative. In the first global initiative of its kind, the ‘Hydrogen Council’ is determined to position hydrogen among the key solutions of the energy transition.
During the launch, members of the ‘Hydrogen Council’ confirmed their ambition to accelerate their significant investment in the development and commercialization of the hydrogen and fuel cell sectors. These investments currently amount to an estimated total value of €1.4 Bn/year. This acceleration will be possible if the key stakeholders increase their backing of hydrogen as part of the future energy mix with appropriate policies and supporting schemes.
Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies have significant potential to enable the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy system. Completing this transition will result in greatly reducedgreenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality. The Hydrogen Council aims to both underpin and leverage the enabling role of hydrogen. The partnership of 13 players from various industry and energy sectors with global reach is committed toproviding guidance to accelerate and expand the deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell solutions aroundthe world.
The move to create the ‘Hydrogen Council’ was initiated by the industry grouping of FCH JU, Hydrogen Europe. The Council will work with, and provide recommendations to, a number of key stakeholders such as policy makers, business and hydrogen players, international agencies and civil society to achieve these goals. Welcoming this development, FCH JU Executive Director Bart Biebuyck said: "The FCH JU is pleased to see that this major initiative launched by our industrial partners is seeing the daylight. We are convinced the Hydrogen Council will play a determining role in positioning hydrogen as key solution within the changing energy landscape ”.
A report entitled "How Hydrogen empowers the energy transition" – commissioned by the Hydrogen Council – sets out the vision of the Council and the key actions it considers fundamental for policy makers to implement, to fully unlock and empower the contribution of hydrogen to the energy transition.
This report sets out how the energy transition needs to overcome five major challenges, and transitioning towards a low-carbon economy will need nothing less than a paradigm shift, requiring large scale investments. It identifies five challenges areas where hydrogen has a role to play:
1. Using more variable renewable energy in the power sector will unbalance supply and demand.
2. To ensure security of supply, global and local energy infrastructure will require major transformation.
3. Buffering of the energy system through fossil fuels will no longer be sufficient to ensure smooth functioning of the system.
4. Some energy end uses are hard to electrify via the grid or with batteries, especially in transport but also in other sectors.
5. Renewable energy sources cannot replace all fossil feedstocks in the (petro-)chemicals industry.
Taken together, the unique properties of hydrogen make it a promising solution to overcome the challenges facing the energy system. Hydrogen can be produced without any carbon footprint if renewable electricity is used for electrolysis, if bio-methane is used in steam methane reforming (SMR) or if SMR is equipped with CCS/CCU. The properties of hydrogen enable it to generate power and/or heat (through fuel cells, combined heat/power units (CHPs), burners, or modified gas turbines). Its chemical properties also allow for its use as feedstock in chemical processes, including production of ammonia and methanol.