Net-zero emissions by 2050 means boosting hydrogen production sixfold-IEA
Achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is possible only if 306 million tonnes of hydrogen are produced from renewable sources, the International Energy Agency said in a report. And that would mean boosting hydrogen production sixfold.

According to the agency’s report, reaching net-zero status will also require annual production of 197.6 million tonnes of hydrogen produced from gas or coal through capture technology. A further 16 million tonnes would have to be produced by electrolysis produced by nuclear power and from fossil-fuel plants through carbon capture.

    In total, the world economy will need 520 million tonnes of hydrogen.

    Last year, only 87 million tonnes of hydrogen were produced, mainly from gas and coal. It was used mainly in the chemicals and oil refining sectors.

    The figures mean that the world must increase the average annual rate of growth of clean hydrogen by 66 % between now and 2030 and 23 % between 2030 and 2050.

    Electrolyser capacity – for the process of splitting molecules of water into hydrogen and oxygen – would have to rise to 3,585 GW compared to current levels of 300 MW.

    The transition to zero emissions would also require a boost in solar power generation to 14,500 GW (from 737 GW according to 2020 figures) and wind power to 8,200 GW from the existing 737 GW as well as an increase in hydro power generation to 2,600 GW from 1,330 GW in 2020.

    The capacity of hydrogen-based power stations would have to be boosted to 1.87 GW from zero today and nuclear power capacity doubled to 812 GW from 415 GW. Bioenergy capacity would have to rise to 640 GW from the current level of 171 GW and capacity of gas-fired stations with capture capability would have to climb to 171 GW from the current level of zero. Coal-fired stations with a similar capability would have to increase to 222 GW.

    The IEA said geothermal capacity would also have to rise to 126 GW from 15 GW recorded last year and marine tidal power to 55 GW from 1 GW now.

    The IEA identified the key task in developing hydrogen energy advances in installations of electrolysers.

   It said hydrogen produced from gas would cost $1-2 per kg by 2050, while “green” hydrogen from renewables would cost $1-$2.50 per kg.

    Hydrogen, the report said, would be required across a wide range of industries – power generation, transport and heavy industry – with industry accounting for about 35 % of use.


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May 2021