IEA reports on The Future of Hydrogen & Today's Opportunities

The International Energy Agency today released their latest report ‘The Future of Hydrogen: Seizing today's opportunities’. This IEA report was launched in Karuizawa, Japan, by Mr Hiroshige Seko, Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and industry, together with Dr Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the IEA.

Governments and companies from around the world will benefit from the report’s rigorous analysis, as well as the ambitious and actionable recommendations. "Hydrogen is today enjoying unprecedented momentum. The world should not miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future." said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA

The time is right to tap into hydrogen’s potential to play a key role in a clean, secure and affordable energy future. At the request of the government of Japan under its G20 presidency, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has produced this landmark report to analyse the current state of play for hydrogen and to offer guidance on its future development.

The report finds that clean hydrogen is currently enjoying unprecedented political and business momentum, with the number of policies and projects around the world expanding rapidly. It concludes that now is the time to scale up technologies and bring down costs to allow hydrogen to become widely used. The pragmatic and actionable recommendations to governments and industry that are provided will make it possible to take full advantage of this increasing momentum, and include key messages:

–        Hydrogen can help tackle various critical energy challenges.

–        Hydrogen is versatile.

–        Hydrogen can enable renewables to provide an even greater contribution.

–        There have been false starts for hydrogen in the past; this time could be different.

–        Hydrogen can be used much more widely.

However the IEA report also highlights that the clean and widespread use of  hydrogen in global  energy transitions faces several challenges. The IEA has identified four near-term opportunities to boost hydrogen on the path towards its clean, widespread use. Focusing on these real-world springboards could help hydrogen achieve the necessary scale to bring down costs and reduce risks for governments and the private sector. While each opportunity has a distinct purpose, all four also mutually reinforce one another:

1. Make industrial ports the nerve centres for scaling up the use of clean hydrogen.

2. Build on existing infrastructure, such as millions of kilometres of natural gas pipelines.

3. Expand hydrogen in transport through fleets, freight and corridors.

4. Launch the hydrogen trade’s first international shipping routes.

The IEA report also makes 7 key recommendations to scale up hydrogen:

1.Establish a role for hydrogen in long-term energy strategies.

2.Stimulate commercial demand for clean hydrogen.

3. Address investment risks of first-movers.

4. Support R&D to bring down costs.

5. Eliminate unnecessary regulatory barriers and harmonise standards.

6. Engage internationally and track progress.

7. Focus on four key opportunities to further increase momentum over the next decade.

The IEA report concludes that building on current policies, together with development of infrastructure and skills, can support opportunities for scale up of hydrogen deployment through enhanced investor confidence and lower costs:

–        Make the most of existing industrial ports to turn them into hubs for lower-cost, lower-carbon hydrogen.

–        Use existing gas infrastructure to spur new clean hydrogen supplies.

–        Support transport fleets, freight and corridors to make fuel-cell vehicles more competitive.

–        Establish the first shipping routes to kick-start the international hydrogen trade.

Hydrogen and energy have a long shared history – powering the first internal combustion engines over 200 years ago to becoming an integral part of the modern refining industry. It is light, storable, energy-dense, and produces no direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases. But for hydrogen to make a significant contribution to clean energy transitions, it now needs to be adopted in sectors where it is almost completely absent, such as transport, buildings and power generation.