Hydrogen is garnering significant attention as a key player in the decarbonization efforts of industries across the globe. With its potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the market for hydrogen is attracting billions of dollars in investments.
However, the adoption of hydrogen-based applications will depend on market forces, policy support, and collaborative efforts.
Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s largest integrated fuels, lubricants, and chemicals operations, recognizes the potential of hydrogen combined with carbon capture to address post-combustion emissions. The company aims to market hydrogen for various use cases, including fuel switching, displacing gray hydrogen, energy exports through ammonia conversion, and heavy transportation such as long-haul trucking.
This vision aligns with Exxon Mobil’s broader strategy to tap into a $6 trillion opportunity focused on molecules management, including hydrogen, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and biofuels. Initially, the company aims to tackle CO2 emissions from electricity generation, as well as industrial and commercial transport.
Hydrogen, known for its near-zero greenhouse gas emissions, is primarily used in petroleum refining and fertilizer production. However, proponents of hydrogen foresee its potential to power fuel cells, generate electricity, and serve as a transportation fuel, replacing carbon-emitting fossil fuels.
When considering the path for hydrogen solutions, factors such as available land, hydrogen type or production method, availability of renewable resources, hydrogen and CO2 storage potential, and supportive carbon markets are taken into account.
Exxon Mobil supports blue hydrogen, considering it the most scalable and cost-effective form currently available. While renewable hydrogen costs two to three times more and faces scalability challenges, blue hydrogen has already demonstrated its potential. Exxon Mobil is investing in a low-carbon hydrogen plant in Baytown, Texas, which could become the world’s largest, producing about 1 Bcf/d of hydrogen. The plant aims to capture over 98% of associated CO2 and store it underground, potentially storing up to 10 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year.
To unlock the full power of hydrogen, supportive government policies are crucial. Constructive policies can mitigate risks, encourage growth, reduce costs, and accelerate operations at local, national, and continental levels. Positive legislative developments, such as tax incentives and funding for hydrogen hubs, have been observed in the U.S., EU, UK, and Canada.
However, a unified global approach is ultimately necessary to effectively achieve net-zero emissions. Business alliances and partnerships play a vital role in coordinating technological standardization. Exxon Mobil is involved in alliances like the Hydrogen Council and the Open Hydrogen Initiative. The company also collaborates with peers and has attracted numerous companies to explore carbon capture in the Houston Gulf Coast area.