Deep Dive: Hydrogen

Hype, Hope, Action

Hydrogen has been a recurring subject of hype for decades but has only seen limited impact. Beyond the circles of hydrogen enthusiasts, the molecule has often been regarded as an impasse and relegated to the realm of the future, despite its promise as an energy vector. However, In 2018, the World Energy Council's Issues Monitor saw "Hydrogen Economy" switch from low to high impact in the eyes of Asian energy leaders. This renewed interest in hydrogen shows signs of significant step changes with global implications.

In response, the World Energy Council undertook a comprehensive review of the viability of hydrogen, bringing the molecule's potential as a paradigm shifter into focus through the sheer breadth of sectors expressing interest. Transforming this insight into impact, and in keeping with its technology-neutral approach, the Council has set out to bridge hydrogen experts and practitioners with the incumbents of the energy sector and create the space where they can execute the molecule’s potential together.

Insights Briefing & Working PapersHydrogen on the Horizon

Conversations about Energy Transitions frequently overlook the role of clean molecules and heat. Combined with deeper electrification, clean molecules can play a major role to decarbonise further areas and uses, in a more circular carbon economy. 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.

The "Hydrogen on the Horizon" series takes full advantage of the Council's unrivalled community of energy experts and flexible workplan to initiate a multi-stakeholder, multi-level community dialogue on hydrogen’s role in energy transitions. Launched with the Innovation Insights Briefing, "Ready, Almost Set, Go?" this series explores core questions for the development of hydrogen in follow-up Working Papers, including "National Hydrogen Strategies", "Iputs from Senior Leaders on Hydrogen Development" and "Hydrogen Demand and Cost Dynamics". This distributed approach allows the Council to work more closely with its community to provide more regular and accurate updates on the development of the fast-changing energy landscapes.

Read: Insights Briefing Read: National Hydrogen Strategies Read: Inputs from Senior Leaders on Hydrogen Developments Read: Hydrogen Demand and Cost Dynamics

Impact CommunityHydrogen Global

In 2019, the Council launched Hydrogen Global. This initiative aims to provide a platform for hydrogen experts to consolidate their awareness of the field and send a strong signal to the energy market. Hydrogen Global empowers experts to argue for themselves with incumbents and surmount the bubble surrounding hydrogen in the energy community. This community of practice is now growing quickly, collecting scattered efforts to show that hydrogen has reached critical mass for entering the market as a viable decarbonisation solution.

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ExperienceHydrogen Innovation Forum

The Innovation Forum on hydrogen convened hydrogen practitioners from across the globe to identify viable business cases for clean hydrogen. Where there appeared to be a consensus was the fact that a high number of projects are needed to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen to global energy markets. This momentous event allowed experts acting independently to share their experiences and outline a comprehensive map of their common challenges.

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EventHydrogen Webinar

Hydrogen Global and the Innovation Forum are both founded on expert discussions and the hydrogen Webinar was a critical starter to these exchanges. The Council invited Hydrogen experts to comment on the brief and expand on its finding, laying the groundwork for the conversations to follow. They highlighted the importance of regulatory changes, the step-change represented by the involvement of China, the role of low-carbon ammonia for the transport of Hydrogen and the feasibility of using hydrogen with current gas infrastructures.

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Insights BriefingNew Hydrogen Economy: Hype or Hope?

Hydrogen can play a major role alongside electricity in future low-carbon economies, with the versatility to provide mobility, power system, heat and industrial services. Whether hydrogen becomes the energy carrier of choice in several decades or delivers specific energy services, it has a role to play in future energy systems.

From the start of its study, the Council has insisted that electrification solutions must not be understood as competing with clean-molecule solutions, such as hydrogen. Rather, the emergence of large-scale hydrogen economy can offer complementary capabilities to electrification, empowering each other to bring even more to bear on decarbonisation efforts.

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New & Views What's next

Transition is a continuous process. Keep abreast of the latest developments around hydrogen by following the Council’s unparalleled global community of energy experts. 

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