Decarbonizing energy and other industries globally using hydrogen will require investment of almost $15 trillion between now and 2050, the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) said in a report in April. The ETC is an international coalition of executives from the energy industry committed to achieving net zero emissions by mid-century, a goal set by the Paris climate agreement. To learn more, read “$15 trillion global hydrogen investment needed to 2050-research.”
- Hydrogen use is forecast to grow to 500-800 million tons a year by mid-century, accounting for 15-20% of total final energy demand, from 115 million tons currently.
- Producing green hydrogen will need zero-carbon electricity supply to increase by 30,000 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2050, on top of 90,000 TWh needed for decarbonization generally, the ETC said.
- Around 85% of the required investment would be in electricity generation and 15% in electrolysers, hydrogen production facilities and transport and storage infrastructure.
- Large-scale geological storage will be needed for the hydrogen produced, given the limited capacity and large costs of compressed hydrogen containers. Salt caverns will offer the lowest cost but if 5% of total annual hydrogen use in 2050 needs to be stored, it needs about 4,000 typical size salt caverns, compared with only about 100 in use for natural gas today, the report said.
Path to 100% Perspective:
As coal, diesel and legacy natural gas plants are retired to achieve ambitious decarbonization goals, the need for new dispatchable capacity is necessary for reliability and resiliency in future power systems. Short-duration and long-duration energy storage are both necessary in future power systems and they each have different roles. Long-duration storage has been the missing piece of the decarbonization puzzle, however, the use of battery storage in this application is not economical or viable.
The most economical long-duration storage is formed with green hydrogen-based future fuels, such as hydrogen, ammonia, carbon neutral methanol and methane.These fuels can be used to generate electricity in flexible power plants. Such flexible power plants provide carbon neutral firm, dispatchable capacity to the grid at any time.
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