Renewable hydrogen to account for 5% of total energy mix by 2050

Jun 14, 2022 by Energy Connects
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At present, roughly 95% of the worldwide hydrogen production comes from fossil fuels.

The proportion of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen in the global energy mix is likely to remain the same in 2050 as it is now, according to a new study by global energy consultancy DNV.

Renewable and low-carbon hydrogen are seen as most crucial in curbing emissions, and the ratio outlined by the DNV report indicates it will fall short of what is needed to meet net-zero goals by 2050, the consultancy said.

To meet the Paris Agreement goals to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050, renewable hydrogen would need to reach 13%, according to DNV’s calculations.

At present, roughly 95% of worldwide hydrogen production comes from fossil fuels. Hydrogen from renewables can be produced through various pathways, with the most established being the use of renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen in an electrolyser.

According to DNV’s forecast, the global share of 5% renewable hydrogen translates into more than 200 million tonnes, with 60% of that being pure hydrogen and compounds such as ammonia and synthetic fuels accounting for another fifth each.

But replacing fossil fuels with electricity is hard for sectors such as aviation, shipping, and high-heat industrial processes – which is where green hydrogen made with low-carbon energy can help them reduce their carbon footprint.

“In many ways, it should be thought of as the low-carbon energy source of last resort. However, it is desperately needed,” DNV’s chief executive Remi Eriksen said in a statement in the report.

An increased hydrogen uptake to meet net-zero targets would require stronger policy mandates, increased demand-side incentives and higher carbon prices, he added.

According to the company’s projections, Europe's focus on energy transition would bring hydrogen's share in its energy mix to 11% by 2050.

The Norway-headquartered risk management consultancy forecasts that by 2050 the average cost of dedicated renewables-based electrolysis will drop to $2 per kilogram from $5 per kilogram at present. The cost of blue hydrogen will drop from just under $3/kg to $2.2/kg, DNV said, forecasting more than 70% of hydrogen will be green by mid-century.

DNV has been publishing its annual report on the world's energy system and the energy transition outlook since 2017.

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