Hydrogen is today enjoying unprecedented momentum. The world should not miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future.
The Future of Hydrogen provides an extensive and independent survey of hydrogen that lays out where things stand now; the ways in which hydrogen can help to achieve a clean, secure and affordable energy future; and how we can go about realising its potential.
Demand for hydrogen
Supplying hydrogen to industrial users is now a major business around the world. Demand for hydrogen, which has grown more than threefold since 1975, continues to rise – almost entirely supplied from fossil fuels, with 6% of global natural gas and 2% of global coal going to hydrogen production.
As a consequence, production of hydrogen is responsible for CO2 emissions of around 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of the United Kingdom and Indonesia combined.
The number of countries with polices that directly support investment in hydrogen technologies is increasing, along with the number of sectors they target.
There are around 50 targets, mandates and policy incentives in place today that direct support hydrogen, with the majority focused on transport.
Over the past few years, global spending on hydrogen energy research, development and demonstration by national governments has risen, although it remains lower than the peak in 2008.
Hydrogen can be extracted from fossil fuels and biomass, from water, or from a mix of both. Natural gas is currently the primary source of hydrogen production, accounting for around three quarters of the annual global dedicated hydrogen production of around 70 million tonnes. This accounts for about 6% of global natural gas use. Gas is followed by coal, due to its dominant role in China, and a small fraction is produced from from the use of oil and electricity.
The production cost of hydrogen from natural gas is influenced by a range of technical and economic factors, with gas prices and capital expenditures being the two most important.