Toward a cross-border, global hydrogen trade market

December 12, 2015: a date that should be familiar to us all by now. It was on this day at COP21 in Paris that 195 countries signed a legally binding agreement to keep global warming well below 2°C, signalling a major transformation of the world’s energy system. With climate urgency now pressing, we must move away from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption to renewable sources like wind and solar.

Clean hydrogen and its derivatives have an essential enabling role in this new energy system which aims to reach Net Zero emissions worldwide by 2050. Complementing other decarbonisation technologies which must be deployed across the global economy, clean hydrogen offers the only long-term, scalable and cost-effective option for deep decarbonisation in hard-to-abate sectors such as steel, heavy-duty transport and ammonia.

From now through 2050, the Hydrogen Council estimates that hydrogen can avoid 80 gigatonnes (GT) of cumulative CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. With annual abatement potential of seven GT by 2050, hydrogen could by then be contributing 20% of the total abatement needed. This would require the use of 660 million tonnes (MT) of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen in 2050 – equivalent to 22% of global final energy demand.

So hydrogen is critical in enabling a decarbonised energy system – we highlighted this in the Hydrogen Council’s Hydrogen for Net Zero report, released in 2021. But the reorganisation of today’s economic and industrial structures will be extensive. To decarbonise the global economy as quickly, effectively and cost efficiently as possible, we need international trade of hydrogen to link sources of cheap renewable energy with areas of high demand. This is the focus of the Council’s brand-new report, Global Hydrogen Flows, released in October.

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