The Hydrogen Transition Summit takes center stage at the Conference of the Parties 28 (COP28), marking a pivotal moment in the global climate and energy agenda.
Organized as a side event at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, this summit aims to propel hydrogen into a leading role in the sustainable energy landscape. Hosted by Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, COP28’s theme revolves around doubling global hydrogen production, underscoring the critical role hydrogen plays in achieving carbon neutrality.
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber’s vision to elevate global hydrogen production from 95 million tonnes to 180 million tonnes annually by 2030 sets an ambitious yet crucial target. This aspiration aligns with the broader goals of COP28, emphasizing the significance of hydrogen in the transition to a low-carbon future.
However, doubling hydrogen production raises questions about the technology and methods involved. Achieving such ambitious targets hinges on low-carbon hydrogen, differentiating between renewable (green), nuclear (pink), and natural gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS) (blue). The dominance of natural gas in current hydrogen production, highlighted by the International Energy Agency (IEA), poses challenges to achieving true “greenness.”
While blue hydrogen, produced from natural gas with CCS, gains traction as a potentially quicker path to meeting targets, concerns linger. The industry debates the environmental efficacy of blue hydrogen due to methane leaks and CCS effectiveness. Large oil and gas companies advocate for blue hydrogen, citing their capacity to undertake substantial projects, yet uncertainties loom over the entire process.
In contrast, green hydrogen, generated using renewable energy, faces hurdles in scalability. Limited growth, insufficient green electricity supply, and the nascent stage of electrolyzer value chains underscore the challenges. The need for accelerated deployment of wind turbines and solar photovoltaics becomes evident for widespread green hydrogen adoption.
Despite the hype surrounding hydrogen production, demand remains a conspicuous absence from discussions. The 2023 European Hydrogen Week revealed a stark reality — the pace of final investment decisions does not match Europe’s hydrogen economy ambitions due to insufficient demand. Hydrogen producers highlight the necessity for state subsidies to bridge the gap between production costs and consumer willingness to pay.
Europe positions itself as a global leader in hydrogen technologies. Oil and gas companies, along with their service providers, leverage their expertise in exploration and production. Investments in carbon dioxide pipelines, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen pipelines, and electrolyzer manufacturing form a comprehensive industrial policy to lead the global energy transition. Europe’s ambition extends to exporting these technologies to other nations, creating a potential global hydrogen market.
As COP28 unfolds, the Hydrogen Transition Summit brings hydrogen into the spotlight, emphasizing its pivotal role in the journey toward a sustainable and decarbonized future.