Big oil companies have long touted hydrogen energy as a way to reduce carbon emissions. Now they are grappling with how to make that a reality. BP, Royal Dutch Shell and TotalEnergies SE are all pursuing multimillion-dollar hydrogen projects, often with government support, as they seek to redefine their future role in a world less reliant on fossil fuels. Hydrogen made using renewable energy can be produced and used without emitting carbon dioxide. The challenge is to make it using renewable power instead and produce it on an industrial scale, in the hope of bringing down costs. To learn more, read “Big Oil Companies Push Hydrogen as Green Alternative, but Obstacles Remain.” Reading these articles may require a subscription from the media outlets.

Key Takeaways:

  • Oil companies are pursuing green hydrogen, which they see as a longer-term goal, while also looking at applying carbon-capture technology to fossil-fuel-based hydrogen production as a way to clean up the gas in the interim.
  • As of the end of June, there were 244 large-scale green hydrogen projects planned, according to the Hydrogen Council, an industry group, up more than 50% since the end of January. It estimates tens of billions of dollars have already been earmarked for hydrogen projects.
  • In the U.S., the Energy Department has said it aims to reduce the cost of green hydrogen by 80% to $1 per kilogram in the next decade, in part by supporting pilot projects.

Path to 100% Perspective:

U.S. renewable energy adoption continues to rise. In 2019, renewable energy sources accounted for 17.5% of total utility-scale electricity generation, with renewable energy generation reaching 720 TWh. However, allocation of current energy stimulus, $100 billion USD, is tied to the fossil fuel sector, which limits the potential for decarbonization. More than 70% of energy stimulus funding in the U.S. is currently allocated to legacy fossil fuels, compared to less than 30% to clean energy. Large oil companies are maximizing government support to make the energy transition, but a larger federal investment in clean energy instead of fossil fuels could accelerate the decarbonization process. 


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