Laurence Boisramé, global director of hydrogen at Bureau Veritas, offers insights into the pivotal role that certification, standardization, and global consensus play in shaping the future of hydrogen as an energy vector.
Despite certain production delays, Europe remains a formidable contender in the race to lead the green hydrogen revolution. Boisramé emphasizes the significance of clear policy directives in driving advancements within the European Union and the United States. Initiatives like RePowerEU, the Fit for 55 package, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the United States have provided momentum to the quest for clean hydrogen. Boisramé notes that while the IRA announcement did raise questions about Europe’s leadership, recent endeavors like H2Global and the European Hydrogen Bank are pivotal for the production and commercialization of green hydrogen and its derivatives.
However, one of the most critical milestones lies in the definition of “clean hydrogen.” Boisramé highlights the importance of the non-biological origin definition found in the delegated act on renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO). This definition, while subject to critique, provides the much-needed long-term visibility. The burning question is whether Europe’s definition of renewable hydrogen and derivatives can become a global reference.
Trust in the energy sector, particularly in the nascent hydrogen market, hinges on standardization, transparency, and clear definitions. Boisramé asserts that true trust will materialize with genuine transparency, where independent third parties assess production projects to ensure compliance with established rules. Certification bodies, such as Bureau Veritas, are instrumental in this process.
For hydrogen to become a global commodity, mutual recognition of standards is imperative, enabling cross-border trading. Alternatively, multinational stakeholders must unite to establish standard rules. Global organizations like AIE, IRENA, IPHE, and the Hydrogen Council are actively involved in promoting this endeavor. However, Boisramé cautions that achieving a global consensus will be a time-consuming process, likely taking several years.
Certification plays a pivotal role in ensuring conformity to standards, whether they are global, regulatory, or voluntary. Currently, there is no global standard or regulatory certification scheme for hydrogen production worldwide. Some countries have developed rules and certification schemes for domestic production to facilitate public support.
Bureau Veritas has introduced a voluntary certification scheme that ensures hydrogen production is safe, sustainable, and derived from renewable sources, with a maximum carbon footprint of 2 kg CO2eq per kilogram of hydrogen. This certification extends to ammonia produced from renewable hydrogen conversion, aiming to expedite permitting, acceptability, and project bankability.
In addition to certification, Bureau Veritas conducts audits and inspections of suppliers to evaluate supply chain performance and resilience, mitigating risks associated with hydrogen projects.
The global hydrogen landscape is witnessing a surge in production projects across various regions, driven by government strategies and incentive programs. However, Boisramé notes that there is still much work to be done, including establishing global standards, uniform definitions, and rules to underpin international hydrogen and derivative trade.
Furthermore, despite some delays in defining incentives for green or decarbonized hydrogen demand, there is an uptick in production projects in countries like the United States, China, Australia, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Europe, especially northwestern Europe, stands out in terms of import infrastructure. Hubs like Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg are already deeply involved in the development of infrastructure for hydrogen and its derivatives, including offloading, storage, and handling.
The journey towards a hydrogen-powered future is indeed complex, but the role of certification, standardization, and global consensus cannot be underestimated. As the world looks to hydrogen to transform renewable energy into fuels and displace fossil fuels across various applications, the foundation of trust and transparency is being meticulously laid. In the end, it is these pillars that will enable the widespread adoption of hydrogen as a clean and sustainable energy vector, reshaping our energy landscape for generations to come.