The Hydrogen Council, an initiative led by over 140 global companies to promote the transition to green energy, has revealed that the production capacities of all clean hydrogen plant projects announced globally only represent around half of the volumes of clean hydrogen required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The council’s findings are part of its contribution to a report titled “Hydrogen Insights 2023,” published on May 11, in collaboration with McKinsey & Company.
According to the report, the cumulative production capacity of all clean hydrogen plant projects announced in Africa is expected to reach 1.5 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) in 2030, with some of these projects expected to enter production in 2025. Globally, the production capacity of all clean hydrogen plant projects already announced is expected to reach 38 Mtpa by 2030. Europe tops the list of regions with the highest production capacities (13 Mtpy by 2030), followed by North America (9.3 Mtpy), Latin America (5.2), Oceania (4.7), Middle East (2), Africa (1.5), China (1.1), Rest of Asia (0.8), and Japan and South Korea (0.3).
The report points out that more than 66% of this capacity concerns green hydrogen, produced by the electrolysis of water using electricity derived exclusively from renewable sources. The rest concerns so-called low-carbon hydrogen, produced from fossil fuels, but decarbonized through carbon capture and storage techniques.
While the report identifies 1,046 hydrogen plant projects announced worldwide, the majority of them are small. Only 112 large-scale projects (more than 200,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year) have been identified on a planetary scale. These large projects are still at the stage of feasibility studies or front-end engineering and design (FEED) and are mainly located in regions that should specialize in exporting clean hydrogen and its derivatives to Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.
The Hydrogen Council highlights that the gap between the production capacities of projects already announced and the volumes required under a net-zero emissions scenario will be difficult to bridge. Green hydrogen production projects face challenges with the slow administrative procedures and supply of equipment such as electrolysers, solar panels, and wind turbines. Meanwhile, low-carbon hydrogen production projects face challenges related to the availability of large-scale infrastructure for carbon capture, transport, and storage, as well as a lack of capital and qualified manpower.
Globally, projects with a cumulative capacity of only 3 Mtpa have passed the final investment decision (DFI) stage. These projects are mainly located in North America (about 70% in terms of production capacity), Asia-Pacific (15%), and the Middle East (8%). The report indicates that the 795 projects expected to go into production in 2030 will require overall investments of $320 billion. Europe remains the leader in planned investments with $117 billion, followed by Latin America ($48 billion), North America ($46 billion), Oceania ($34 billion), the Middle East ($21 billion), Africa ($19 billion), China ($18 billion), and Japan, South Korea, and the rest of Asia ($17 billion).
In conclusion, while the report reveals positive steps in hydrogen production, it highlights the challenges in bridging the gap between announced production capacities and the required volumes under a net-zero emissions scenario. This brings the need for more investment in large-scale clean hydrogen projects and addressing the challenges faced by the production of green and low-carbon hydrogen.