Hydrogen on the Horizon: Ready, Almost Set, Go?

Aug. 2, 2021

The World Energy Council, in collaboration with EPRI and PwC, aims to provide a better understanding of hydrogen development worldwide for the energy community, building on the expertise and experience of its global network. This Innovation Insights Briefing aims to start a multi-stakeholder, multi-level community dialogue on hydrogen’s role in energy transitions

This Innovation Insights Briefing on hydrogen is part of a series of publications by the World Energy Council focused on Innovation. It was developed in collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and PwC.

In a fast-paced era of disruptive changes, this briefing aims at facilitating strategic sharing of knowledge between the Council’s members and the other energy stakeholders and policy shapers and contribute to a global dialogue on hydrogen’s role in energy transitions.

This briefing builds upon earlier work by the Council and involved extensive research on national strategy developments and interviews with 38 experts from 23 countries, reflecting 61 % of the global Total Primary Energy Supply – TPES (2018 data, OECD) and 70% of global GDP (2019 data, WB).

Our work has identified the following 4 areas for further discussion

  • Significant divergences are emerging across countries and regions, as national hydrogen strategies reveal varying attitudes towards hydrogen’s role in energy transitions. This signals a need to embrace diversity – eliminating a one size fits all mindset – and enable differing technologies and use cases to be explored.
     
  • Confusion over ‘colours’ is stifling innovation, with over-simplification and colour prejudice risking the premature exclusion of some technological routes that could potentially be more cost- and carbon-effective. There is a need for further dialogue which looks beyond colour to instead explore carbon equivalence.
     
  • Demand-centric hydrogen perspectives are needed to advance the Humanising Energy and demand-driven agendas. The current hydrogen conversation focuses heavily on supply, ignoring the role of hydrogen users. Discussions must explore what’s needed to trigger demand, with a specific focus on the development of hydrogen infrastructure and a global supply chain.
     
  • The hydrogen economy could stimulate job creation and economic growth, potentially helping to fulfil ‘build forward together’ ambitions post-COVID-19. Several national hydrogen strategies highlight jobs as an important driver of hydrogen development, with opportunities to reskill the existing workforce and upskill a new workforce.

A short series of detailed Innovation Insights Briefing will be released to help inform the dialogue on these 4 topics. Together with our community, we expect to bring greater insights for discussion at the 25th World Energy Congress in St. Petersburg in October 2022.