Macro Trends

Is the Clean Hydrogen Era Really Here?

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  • Massive US and European government support is midwifing the birth of an international low-carbon hydrogen industry.
  • The challenges — costs especially — remain formidable, and only the best-designed projects are likely to thrive.
  • A lot of ducks need to be lined up, but hydrogen could catalyze industrialization in the Global South, fundamentally rewiring global energy systems in the process.

Clean hydrogen is seen as the critical fuel to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors such as steel, ceramics and cement. But today’s hydrogen world is one of paradox. Projects and ambitions are proliferating. The scope of many projects too is ramping up, with scale seen as key to cost-cutting. But offtake remains elusive, with most projects that have advanced to final investment decision stage being driven by larger companies for strategic reasons. Government support is vital to enable lift-off for the first generation of world-scale projects. But even with sustained support, it is hard to see how ambitious 2030 targets — the EU is targeting 20 million tons per year, half of which will be imported — can be met.

Hydrogen, Low-Carbon Policy, Policy and Regulation
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