Europe Must Dig Deep For Hydrogen Energy To Become Reality

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Europe Must Dig Deep For Hydrogen Energy To Become Reality

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 08:54
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European Union flag with H2 hydrogen molecules (copyright by Adobe Stock/Alexander Limbach)
European Union flag with H2 hydrogen molecules (copyright by Adobe Stock/Alexander Limbach)

The PTJ has noted during the last few months the excitement in industry circles concerning the transition from fossil fuel to hydrogen as Europe considers its next steps in meeting a net zero emissions goal by 2050. Analysts expect the hydrogen market to be worth $1.2 trillion by that date.

The costs for moving from fossil fuel to hydrogen have always the Achilles Heel of hydrogen's future.

Barclays estimates global capital costs just for production equipment over the next 30 years could be $500 billion for green and blue hydrogen. Additional investment in infrastructure, including distribution networks, could double that figure to $1 trillion.

“Potentially, that infrastructure challenge is much greater than with any of the other technologies that have emerged for decarbonization over the last 10-15 years,” consultancy Wood Mackenzie’s Ben Gallagher said.

So far, there has been little economic incentive to switch to the cleaner forms of hydrogen and governments will need to step in with inducements to make people use green hydrogen.

The cheapest grey hydrogen (which comes from fossil fuels) costs 1.5 euros per kilogram to produce, European Commission figures show.

Blue hydrogen (which relies on hydrocarbon energy but the resulting emissions are captured) costs 2 euros/kg and green up to 5.5 euros/kg.

At least two-thirds of the cost of hydrogen production is the energy used to make it, meaning green hydrogen should become cheaper as renewable energy costs continue to fall. 

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