Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Emergence of a Green Hydrogen Economy: Technologies, Players, and Potential

Green Hydrogen Economy

The importance of hydrogen in the global transition to renewable energy is growing. However, not all hydrogen is made equally. Clean processes that yield “green hydrogen” are becoming more and more popular as the sustainable hydrogen alternative.

Water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity generated by solar and wind power plants. This process creates green hydrogen. There are no carbon emissions from this electrolysis process. After that, hydrogen can be utilized in a variety of applications as an emission-free fuel.


Green hydrogen economy proponents contend that difficult-to-decarbonize industries like heavy industry and long-distance transportation, which are difficult to electrify, could be transformed. Today, the majority of hydrogen is produced through a carbon-intensive process from natural gas.

There are currently hydrogen roadmaps in over 30 countries, and companies like Snam, Engie, and Uniper are increasing their investment. Through stimulus programs, governments are also investing billions of dollars in the expansion of electrolyzer and green hydrogen projects.

Nonetheless, there are still significant issues with infrastructure, costs, and technology. Adoption will depend on reducing the cost of electrolyzers through research and development and scaling. Coordination will also be needed when transmission and distribution networks are built out.

However, renewable hydrogen has special potential as a multipurpose fuel for everything from freight to steel production to grid storage if it can reach scale. The stage is set for green hydrogen to take the lead in making the world economy net-zero.

Here are some of the leading players helping drive growth in the emerging green hydrogen economy:

  • Energy Companies: Companies like Shell, BP, TotalEnergies, Engie, Ørsted, and others are investing heavily in green hydrogen production and infrastructure. They view hydrogen as a key part of their energy transition strategies.
  • Industrial Gas Producers: To keep up with growing demand, well-known hydrogen producers like Linde, Air Liquide, and Air Products are increasing their investments in green hydrogen. They are also creating new production techniques and technologies.
  • Electrolyzer Manufacturers: Manufacturers of the electrolyzers required for the production of green hydrogen include Siemens, Thayssenkrupp, Nel, ITM Power, and Cummins. It will be crucial to reduce the cost of electrolyzers through innovation and scalability.
  • Automakers: Toyota, Hyundai, Daimler, and other automakers are betting on hydrogen fuel cells to power electric vehicles, making green hydrogen essential for sustainable transportation.
  • Governments: The development of green hydrogen is receiving billions of dollars from numerous national governments, including those of Germany, France, Australia, Japan, and China, through the use of production targets, demand creation mechanisms, and policy incentives.
  • Startups: Along the entire green hydrogen supply chain—from production to storage to end-use applications—dozens of new startups are springing up. H2Pro, Hiringa Energy, HydrogenPro, and Plug Power are notable startups.

These players are in a position to facilitate the crucial role that green hydrogen plays in decarbonizing the world energy system through increased investments and policy support. But adoption will depend on ongoing cost-cutting and scale-up.

Here are some of the key technologies driving the growth of green hydrogen:

  • Electrolyzers: Through a process known as electrolysis, these systems divide water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity. Companies like Nel and Cummins are developing advanced alkaline and proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers in an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
  • Renewable Energy: The clean electricity needed to produce green hydrogen at scale is provided by increasing the capacity of solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other renewable energy sources.
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Electric vehicles, data centers, warehouses, and other devices can be powered by hydrogen using fuel cells, such as those produced by Plug Power, Ballard Power Systems, and other companies.
  • Hydrogen Storage: Bulk hydrogen can be stored for later use and transportation using efficient methods such as salt caverns and hydrides.
  • Biogas Upgrading: Turning biogas from landfills and agriculture waste into green hydrogen through steam methane reforming is also growing.
  • Hydrogen Transmission Pipelines: Hybrid infrastructure, such as repurposed natural gas pipelines, can move hydrogen across large territories.
  • Hydrogen Refueling Stations: The supply of fuel cell electric vehicles requires the expansion of networks of retail hydrogen fueling stations.

As the demand for clean energy sources continues to grow, green hydrogen technologies in green hydrogen economy are expected to play an increasingly important role in the global energy mix. These technologies offer a sustainable and scalable way to produce hydrogen, which can then be used across a range of sectors to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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