The production of hydrogen using renewable or low-carbon sources is facing a substantial uphill battle in meeting international emission reduction objectives.
A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) highlights the considerable gap between current hydrogen production methods and the ambitious targets set to combat global warming. This article explores the key findings of the report, shedding light on the challenges and potential solutions for achieving sustainable hydrogen production.
Green Hydrogen Targets Far From Reach
The report reveals that as of 2022, the global production of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen stood at a mere 0.7 million tons. However, the IEA’s objectives for 2030 call for a staggering production volume ranging from 70 to 125 million tons. To put this into perspective, production from green sources would need to increase by over 100 times its current output within the next decade to align with these goals.
Another critical aspect highlighted in the report is the need to significantly reduce the emissions intensity of hydrogen production. Currently, more than 90% of hydrogen is derived from fossil fuels, resulting in high emissions. To combat this, the emissions intensity would need to decrease by approximately 50% by the early 2030s. This reduction would equate to a global cut of 10% in CO2 emissions, with a predominant shift towards renewable or low-carbon hydrogen.
While the report acknowledges some progress in the alignment of standards, certification processes, and technical assistance in the past year, it underscores several outstanding challenges in the path to large-scale hydrogen production. One significant hurdle is the need for stronger signals of demand for renewable and low-carbon hydrogen from both public and private entities. These signals must evolve from mere commitments to concrete contracts and policies.
The study also laments the lack of substantial progress in strengthening international collaboration to expedite the transition to cleaner energy in the seven sectors covered by the report. These sectors, which include buildings and cement, are responsible for 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The report highlights that current efforts fall far short of fully tapping into the potential of international collaboration to accelerate these transitions.
Amid the challenges, the report also identifies some positive developments. Electric passenger vehicle sales have been on the rise, accounting for 14% of total global vehicle sales and doubling in percentage every 1.2 years. Additionally, renewable energy deployment has been growing, constituting 83% of new electricity generation capacity in the previous year.