North American Leaders Summit unveils hydrogen focus

The North American Leaders Summit (NALS), a trilateral summit involving Canada, Mexico, and the US, made several climate promises, but building a clean hydrogen market in North America was the most notable.

After the Three Amigos Summit, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, US President Joe Biden, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau established climate change commitments and promoted North America’s economic integration.

In a summary of the NALS talks, the White House said “developing a North American clean hydrogen market, including potential cooperation on research and development, safety codes and standards, cross-border hydrogen clusters, green freight corridors, and integrated maritime operations” was the most surprising pledge.

Public energy sector comments in Mexico have ignored this regional green hydrogen development.

Mexico lags behind Chile and Brazil in hydrogen development. Mexico is a promising region for green hydrogen growth, but lack of renewable energy support, judicial ambiguity, and regulatory indifference to innovative hydrogen use cases limit its potential.

Like many renewable energy projects, the Neptuno 1 and Delicias solar parks in San Luis Potosí and Guanajuato, owned by Spain’s DH2 Energy and intended to fuel future green hydrogen activities, have been delayed in the environmental review phase for years.

The Mexican hydrogen economy may generate US$60bn in investments and 3 million new employment, according to green hydrogen trade association H2Mex.

Last year, energy minister Sener proposed converting natural gas infrastructure, such as combined cycle plants and gas pipelines, to partially use hydrogen by 2033. Since early 2022, CFE has been working on a green hydrogen trial project that would utilise part of the power from the US$1bn Puerto Peñasco solar park, now under construction.

The White House stated the three countries made climate commitments in their meeting report. Reduce methane emissions 15% by 2030, set unified standards for electric vehicle charging stations, and share information to decarbonize public transit.

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