This online forum, part of the World Energy Council’s pragmatic 'how-to' stance in developing a new hydrogen economy, facilitated an international practice exchange and a deep dive into ongoing developments of hydrogen in the Latin America & Caribbean region. Organised by our Colombian, Chilean and Argentinian Member Committees in collaboration with the London Secretariat on 7 July 2020, this digital dialogue convened more than 650 participants.
- Moderator: Pierre Devillers, Former Chair, WEC Chile; Chief Business Development & Commercial Officer, ENGIE Latin America
- Welcome by: Dr Angela Wilkinson, Secretary General & CEO of the World Energy Council
- Juan Carlos Jobet, Minister of Energy, Chile
- Ulrich Benterbusch, Deputy Director General, German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
- Badr Ikken, CEO of IRESEN, Morocco
- Ana Angel, LATAM Manager, Hinicio
Hydrogen is a global opportunity which should be valued for its potential to allow diversified energy sources and uses to come together. Three of the key challenges inherent in this new global hydrogen vector opportunity are: (1) tracking and accelerating demand signals, (2) ensuring social acceptability, and (3) shaping a level playing field that is open to all. In a demand-centric world, clean hydrogen is not a quick-fix technology but will open up new possibilities in shaping the energy transition.
Germany recently published its Hydrogen Strategy, as hydrogen and products derived from it will be a key element in Germany’s energy transition. Germany will be relying on imports of clean hydrogen and is therefore working to establish international markets and cooperation for hydrogen. Hydrogen is not a national, or even European matter, it is a global one, and as such, Germany is planning collaborations with Chile and other countries in the LAC region, and stable political and economic framework conditions supportive of large-scale investment will be key in order to develop bilateral partnerships.
Morocco is working to develop its power-to-x strategy, as the country has ideal conditions for solar and wind energy required to produce clean molecules. In the short-term, ammonia will play a role as an industry feedstock, while hydrogen will be important for industry, heat, and grid stability in the mid- and long-term. Morocco established a National Commission for Hydrogen which was essential to ensure public and private actors realized the fuel’s potential and worked together in enabling competitive hydrogen in Morocco.
Discussion also captured the importance of focusing on demand as well as moving from small-scale MW production to large-scale GW production of clean molecules. International cooperation and partnership must be based not only on import/export relationships, but also on supporting local scale-up necessary for mass production of hydrogen.
Within the LAC region, Chile is the indisputable hydrogen leader, in both the public and private sector, although other countries are quickly catching-up with projects emerging in Costa Rica, Colombia, French Guiana, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. While some countries, such as Uruguay and Paraguay are moving to develop hydrogen roadmaps, export clean electricity, decarbonize transport, and cooperate with other countries, Brazil has faced difficulties in scaling up hydrogen projects. Varying levels of project development in the region are producing different challenges and opportunities. To spark more rapid clean hydrogen development, political and industrial leadership, financial incentives, demand mapping, and robust regulatory frameworks are needed to bring hydrogen to the public safely and efficiently.
For Chile, hydrogen plays a pivotal role, accounting for 21% of the planned emissions reduction. The country has enough renewable energy capacity to generate 70x the electricity consumed by the country and plans to coordinate with actors along the value chain in order to make the pieces of the green hydrogen puzzle work together in a coordinated way. In order to jumpstart hydrogen’s development in Chile, the mining sector presents the most immediate opportunity for progress. However, it is crucial to bring together all relevant actors on board and avoid politicising the topic as it requires whole-system and long-term support. Governments need to be careful about striking a balance of regulatory intervention and stepping back to allow private companies to advance on their work.
The recording of the webinar can be accessed here.