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Hydrogen demand to rise to 140m tonnes in 2030

Yearly demand for hydrogen is expected to rise from about 90-million tonnes today to 140-million tonnes in 2030, with green hydrogen having a 20% share.

However, the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) says that, in supplying more than 30-million tonnes of green hydrogen, this level of growth would require the build-out of over 250 GW of electrolyser capacity before the end of the decade – “well above the 90 GW of cumulative capacity expansions earmarked to date”.

Further, in the longer term, it is estimated that the supply of clean hydrogen would need to reach 690-million tonnes by 2050 to meet demand from end-users, and that between 60% and 80% of this would be green hydrogen, necessitating 3 TW to 4 TW of electrolysis capacity.

“The significant expansion of electrolyser capacity needed to support future demand for green hydrogen is positive for platinum, as proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers are especially suited to coping with the intermittent nature of renewable electricity,” the council said.

It added that growth in hydrogen availability also supports wider deployment of hydrogen infrastructure, such as refuelling networks, which could provide a further boost to platinum by allowing the wider adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

During COP26, the H2Zero initiative was announced, further supporting the emphasis on hydrogen as a route to decarbonisation.

Backed by a series of investment pledges from 28 major companies representing different sectors from mining to energy, vehicle and equipment manufacturers, and financial services, it aims to accelerate the use and production of hydrogen as an essential part of the future net-zero energy system.

The 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact, agreed by nearly 200 participating countries in the closing stages of COP26, is a global agreement to accelerate action on climate change this decade, and consolidates aspects of the 2015 Paris Agreement, keeping the possibility of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels alive, a goal that is increasingly viewed as necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Significantly, the WPIC says, the Glasgow Climate Pact is the “first ever climate deal” to explicitly plan to reduce the use of fossil fuels, although it stopped short of making a commitment to phase them out altogether at this stage.

Scientific consensus, including the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is that human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily owing to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, which releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). Under current thinking, GHG emissions need to reduce to zero by about 2050 to limit warming to 1.5 °C.

Further, the WPIC refers to a recent report published by the Hydrogen Council, which addresses the necessity of transitioning to a low-carbon society if goals to prevent climate change are to be achieved, identifying the abatement ability of ‘clean’ hydrogen, use of which could avoid 80 gigatons of cumulative CO2 emissions between now and 2050.

Clean hydrogen refers to both low-carbon hydrogen and emissions-free green hydrogen, which is produced from renewable energy.

“Clean hydrogen is critical for decarbonising industry, replacing the use of fossil fuels,” the council comments, noting that the steel industry, in particular, is one of the world’s highest CO2 emitting industries.

The steel industry is also already exploring ways of using green hydrogen as a feedstock instead of coal.

For example, platinum-based PEM electrolysis is being used to produce green hydrogen from wind power as part of a low-CO2 steel-making project developed by Salzgitter in Germany.

“Hydrogen is also being used to help mobility and transport sectors achieve net-zero goals. What is more, its use as a low- or zero-emissions fuel is enabling the deployment of hydrogen FCEVs, which also use platinum-based PEM technology and emit only water from their tailpipes,” the council says.

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