Deep Dive: Hydrogen

Low-Carbon Hydrogen at Scale: Hopes and Challenges

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, since 2018, the World Energy Issues Monitor and World Energy Scenarios see hydrogen becoming a topic of high impact in the eyes of energy leaders worldwide, which could play a significant role in the coming years in energy systems and for energy transitions. This renewed interest in hydrogen shows signs of significant step changes with global implications. 

Since 2019, the World Energy Council has developed several deep dives on hydrogen, to better understand its true potential for energy systems and energy transitions. Building on the engagement of worldwide community, the World Energy Insights on hydrogen aim to provide energy leaders with key information for decision-making on the topic of hydrogen.  

Working PaperRegional insights into low-carbon hydrogen scale up

Low-carbon hydrogen can play a significant role by 2040 across the world, to support countries’ efforts to achieve the Paris Agreement goals whilst contributing to the diversity and security of their energy portfolios. This would require significant global trade flows of hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels. The momentum is continuing to grow worldwide, but differences are seen between regions – based on differing market activities and opportunities.  

Following the release of the “Hydrogen on the Horizon” series in July and September 2021, the World Energy Council, in collaboration with EPRI and PwC, led a series of regional deep dives to understand regional differences in low-carbon hydrogen development. These regional deep dives assisted in uncovering regional perspectives and differing dynamics for low-carbon hydrogen uptake. The “regional paths” provided new insights into the global scaling up of low-carbon hydrogen in the coming years. In addition, each region presents its own unique potential in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  


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", "Inputs 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

EventHydrogen Events

The Council continuously engages the community on the insights gathered, in order to develop the dialogue and drive forward action. Several events have been organised on the topic of hydrogen as part of this deep dive.

Global Hydrogen Webinars: Insights into low carbon hydrogen scale up

ExperienceHydrogen Innovation Workshops

The Council convenes hydrogen practitioners from across the globe to identify concrete steps for low-carbon hydrogen scale up. The Innovation Forum on hydrogen uncovered viable business cases for low-carbon 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. The invitation-only regional hydrogen workshops, held in the second half of 2021, were in-depth conversations involving 180+ high-level experts from 67 countries. They helped uncover differing regional paths for low-carbon hydrogen, with specific market opportunities and challenges.

Read more

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.

Read it here