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COP 27 brings further momentum for large scale hydrogen projects

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Last week’s COP 27 conference in Egypt saw the unveiling of a 12-month action plan for the hydrogen sector with the projected creation of 100 ‘hydrogen valleys’ and the establishment of a certification programme.

It represents the increasing official recognition of the coming of age of hydrogen as a technology of the future. The COP 27 programme has been entrusted to the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy, which is in turn supported by the IEA and the International Renewable Energy Association. Also likely to be onboard are the World Bank and the UN Industrial Development Organisation.

What is a hydrogen valley?

A hydrogen valley is a big geographical area – like a city or an island – which combines a number of different hydrogen-based solutions to create a sustainable hydrogen ecosystem. This ecosystem in turn consumes enough hydrogen to make the projects from economically viable. Such hydrogen valleys would typically be backed through their early stages by government finance. Most European countries have hydrogen valley projects on the go.

The plans outlined at COP 27 will see countries committing to the increase of hydrogen across a range of different sectors. The group’s ultimate objective is “affordable renewable and low carbon hydrogen globally available by 2030.”

Hydrogen – what is it?

• Light, storable and energy dense
• Produces no direct emissions or pollutants or greenhouse gases
• Can be extracted from several sources
• Natural gas is the primary source of hydrogen production
• Currently dominated by industrial applications – e.g. oil refining, ammonia, methanol production

“For hydrogen to make a significant contribution to clean energy transitions, it needs to be embraced by consumption-heavy sectors such as transport, buildings and power generation,” said Atlantic Capital Markets in a recent research note. “Building the supply to industrial users is now becoming a major business sector globally, with demand for hydrogen continuing to rise.”

Hydrogen can hold the answers for green transport

One major possibility for hydrogen is the transport sector. The competitiveness of hydrogen fuel cell cars is reliant on fuel cell costs and refuelling stations – drive these costs down and hydrogen-powered cars become a serious challenger to traditional electric vehicles.

With the estimated global demand for all forms of hydrogen expected to increase two-fold by 2030 and approximately five-fold by 2050, over 2020 demand, the infrastructure for its generation, transport, distribution and storage must also scale. According to a report issued this year by Guidehouse Insights, the global market for hydrogen transportation development alone is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 19.8% from an estimated 4.5 Mt H2 in 2022 to 22.8 Mt H2 by 2031.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles were one of the main attractions at the recent Paris Auto Show, including high performance sports cars like the Hopium Machina, which has a 621-mile range and a maximum speed of 143 mph. Paris-based NAMX was also exhibiting an HUV – hydrogen utility vehicle – which has removable tanks. Citroen also had a light commercial van on display with an 8.8lb tank capacity.

There are many companies developing solutions for that major conundrum – how to shift more of our road transport from fossil fuels to clean energy like hydrogen. Hydrogen technology can provide many of the answers for tomorrow’s commercial and private road transport, not to mention other areas like aviation.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Make sure you do your own research or consult a professional advisor.

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