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Hydrogen investment is surging, but still falling behind

Jun 14, 2022
Projected global demand for hydrogen, by sector
Reproduced from DNV; Chart: Axios Visuals

Booming investment in hydrogen fuels isn't keeping pace with the climate crisis, per a new forecast from consulting conglomerate DNV.

Why it matters: Hydrogen is on track to account for 5% of the global fuel mix by 2050. But to meet the modest targets of the Paris climate accord, it instead needs to reach 15%.

What's happening: Hydrogen holds great promise for climate technology, but that demands enormous investment in new infrastructure that is not happening.

  • All that new infrastructure will also take a long time to build.

Zoom in: Take green hydrogen, which is produced by splitting hydrogen from water using electrolyzers.

  • The bottleneck: powering all those electrolyzers with emissions-free electricity.
  • We'll need another 3,100 GW — double the current capacity of solar and wind generation, DNV says.

What's next: "Early uptake of hydrogen will be led by hard-to-abate, high-heat manufacturing processes such as iron and steel production which currently use coal and natural gas," DNV says.

  • Similarly, hydrogen fuels are promising for heavy transportation — but deployment won't ramp up until the 2030s.

Meanwhile: Two areas where hydrogen uptake will be limited are passenger vehicles and building heating.

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