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IEA: The Future of Hydrogen - Technology Report

Jun 26, 2019

The report emphasizes the immediate need to advance technologies and reduce costs, making hydrogen more accessible. It offers practical recommendations for governments and industries to harness this momentum effectively.

The Future of Hydrogen: Seizing Today's Opportunities

Prepared by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for the G20, Japan (June 2019)

Overview: 2019 marks a pivotal year for hydrogen, which is gaining unprecedented momentum globally. It holds the potential to be a significant clean energy solution. Governments and companies need to take real-world actions now to harness this potential. The report, commissioned by the Japanese government under its G20 presidency, offers an extensive assessment of the current state of hydrogen, its potential in achieving a clean, secure, and affordable energy future, and the steps needed to realize this potential. The IEA aims to guide global policy on hydrogen, and this report is a part of their comprehensive approach to the global energy system.

Key Points:

  1. Hydrogen's Momentum: Hydrogen is experiencing a surge in interest due to its potential as a clean energy solution. This momentum is driven by multiple factors, making it distinct from past interest surges.

  2. Role of Governments: Governments play a crucial role in driving hydrogen's potential. Their policies, research, and development efforts are pivotal in shaping the future of hydrogen.

  3. Hydrogen Production: Currently, hydrogen is produced mainly from natural gas, water and electricity, coal, and biomass. The report compares these production pathways and also explores the conversion of hydrogen to other fuels and feedstocks.

  4. Storage and Distribution: The study delves into the challenges and solutions related to hydrogen storage, its transmission, and distribution. The total cost of delivering and storing hydrogen is also discussed.

  5. Industrial Uses: Hydrogen finds applications in oil refining, the chemical sector, iron and steel production, and as a source of high-temperature heat.

  6. Other Opportunities: Hydrogen can be a clean transport fuel, a fuel for heating buildings, and can play a role in power generation and electricity storage.

  7. Policy Recommendations: The report identifies near-term opportunities such as developing coastal industrial clusters, leveraging existing gas infrastructure, focusing on fleets, freight, and corridors, and establishing the first shipping routes for international hydrogen trade.

The IEA emphasizes the importance of translating the current momentum into real-world actions to firmly position hydrogen as a significant enabler of a clean, secure, and affordable energy future.

Image source: IEA, Global demand for pure hydrogen, 1975-2018, IEA, Paris, IEA. Licence: CC BY 4.0

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