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Solar's explosive hydrogen engine

Illustration of a hot air balloon with the Earth as the balloon portion.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Surging investment in so-called green hydrogen production is expected to drive enormous demand for solar power, per S&P.

Why it matters: If solar generation for hydrogen production were a country, it's on track to be the third largest by capacity behind China and the U.S. as soon as 2030.

By the numbers: Solar used to make hydrogen is expected to jump from near zero today to 80 GW globally in less than 10 years, according to an S&P Global Commodity Insights forecast.

Catch up fast: Hydrogen is commonly made with electrolyzers, which split the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in water.

  • The product is "green hydrogen" when the electrolyzers are powered by zero-emissions energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines and hydroelectric dams.

What's happening: Investors are pouring money into green hydrogen production to provide heat for industry, fuel for trucks, and other applications.

  • Much of that hydrogen will be with hydroelectricity. But there are only so many dams.

What's next: Europe is expected to make up the bulk of the demand as it transitions from natural gas.

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