Hydrogen is increasingly recognized as a linchpin in the transition to clean energy. As the world races toward the 2050 Net Zero goal, the key to success lies in decarbonizing sectors that are historically challenging, such as heavy industry and transportation. Hydrogen’s role in replacing fossil fuels in these areas has sparked a global surge in electrolyzer projects, marking a crucial step in scaling up the hydrogen economy.
The latest edition of Aurora Energy Research’s global electrolyzer database paints a promising picture of this growth. The world’s electrolyzer project pipeline has surged to a staggering 1,190 GW. This represents an impressive 66 GW increase, a 6% growth, since the previous edition published in April 2023.
What’s even more striking is the acceleration of projects that have moved beyond the planning phase. A total capacity of 182 GW now stands as a testament to this progress, marking a 32% increase (48 GW) since April 2023, compared to the 28% increase recorded in the previous six months.
This global shift isn’t confined to a single region; it’s a truly worldwide phenomenon. South America has emerged as a powerhouse in the emerging hydrogen economy. The region leads the additions to the project portfolio, driven by the 25 GW Amigos del Verano project in Chile. This megaproject has already passed the initial planning phase, underscoring South America’s growing role in the hydrogen landscape.
Oceania comes in second, with developers announcing 20 GW of electrolyzer projects in the region since April 2023. This marks a significant shift from North America, which led the additions in the previous database edition. Europe, although remaining a prominent location for electrolyzer projects, has seen its share of the project pipeline drop to 46% from 56% in April 2023.
However, the growth of the hydrogen economy isn’t confined to project capacities alone; manufacturing is also surging. Aurora predicts that global electrolyzer manufacturing capacity will reach 59 GW/year by 2025, a remarkable 23% increase from April 2023. This cumulative capacity globally will enable manufacturers to produce 506 GW of electrolyzers by 2030, surpassing the 315 GW needed for the current project portfolio. Manufacturing capacity outside Europe is on track to surpass European capacity by 2025, marking a pivotal shift.
While Europe’s dominance may be waning in project and manufacturing capacities, it remains a front-runner in project delivery. Currently, operating electrolyzer capacity worldwide is a mere 790 MW, equivalent to less than 3% of average electricity demand in the UK alone. Funding remains a critical challenge to future growth, and public aid is pivotal in ensuring project success.
The next six months hold the key to expanding the hydrogen economy. Governments are expected to announce aid for over 400 MW, supporting the surge in project development. Anise Ganbold, Director of Hydrogen Research at Aurora Energy Research, emphasized the global shift in the hydrogen market, particularly the rise of megaprojects with over 10 GW of capacity.
Dilara Caglayan, lead European hydrogen expert at Aurora Energy Research, highlighted the wave of electrolyzer projects spurred by subsidies in the US and Europe. Support plans, she noted, will play a crucial role in expanding hydrogen into the market, and with auctions planned in Europe, many more projects are expected to accelerate in the near future.
The surge in electrolyzer projects worldwide marks a significant step towards harnessing the power of hydrogen in driving the transition to clean and sustainable energy systems.