Hydrogen has emerged as one of the most promising solutions to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in pursuit of global climate targets. Not just any hydrogen, specifically green hydrogen, produced from renewable energy sources. This revolutionary form of energy holds the potential to transform multiple sectors and act as a crucial tipping point in our journey toward a sustainable future.
A recent report by SYSTEMIQ and the University of Exeter shed light on the essential tipping points required to accelerate the global transition to a net-zero economy. Green hydrogen was identified as a critical element in various sectors, such as fertilizer and steel production. Its widespread adoption can have far-reaching positive impacts on these industries, significantly reducing emissions.
The G7 members launched the Hydrogen Action Pact (HAP) last year, recognizing the importance of green hydrogen. The primary objective of this pact is to strengthen collective efforts in advancing hydrogen and its derivatives. One of the critical action items agreed upon is the acceleration of low-carbon and renewable energy-sourced hydrogen, with a specific emphasis on the hard-to-abate sectors.
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is exclusively interested in renewable energy-sourced hydrogen, which aligns with its mission to promote sustainable solar energy solutions.
The Global Hydrogen Review 2022 report by The International Energy Agency states that the global demand for hydrogen reached a staggering 94 million tons per annum in 2021, and it continues to grow at a steady rate of 5%.
However, green hydrogen accounts for less than 1% of global hydrogen production.
Despite this disparity, the declining costs of renewable electricity and electrolyzers indicate that the green hydrogen sector is on the verge of becoming a viable investment opportunity. A remarkable 43 countries have announced roadmaps and strategies to embrace a green hydrogen economy, further highlighting its immense potential, as per ISA’s Blueprint for Ecosystem Readiness Assessment for Green Hydrogen 2022. ISA report specifically on Africa has also shown tremendous potential for Green Hydrogen in the continent.
The emerging green hydrogen technology faces several challenges that must be addressed for widespread adoption. These challenges include a shortage of specialized human resources, high operational costs, limited sector knowledge, underdeveloped infrastructure and pipelines, the absence of dedicated policies, and limited access to affordable financing.
To overcome these obstacles, targeted interventions such as increased investment, government support, engineering development, and skilled workforce training are essential to facilitate a smooth transition toward a green hydrogen economy.
Scaling the uptake
ISA has taken a proactive approach in line with the global momentum for green hydrogen as a viable energy transition vector.
With a membership exceeding a hundred countries, ISA has launched the dedicated ‘Solar for Green Hydrogen’ programme. This initiative aims to support Member Countries by providing comprehensive analytics on the potential deployment of green hydrogen across various end-use sectors. The programme also encompasses ecosystem development, including establishing appropriate standards and certifications to attract investments and foster the creation of domestic and cross-border hydrogen value chains.
The Solar for Green Hydrogen programme represents an important step towards realizing the full potential of green hydrogen. By leveraging the power of solar energy and its derivative applications, ISA is poised to play a significant role in driving the energy transition and fostering sustainable development. The programme’s comprehensive approach, from capacity building to investment facilitation, underscores the commitment to accelerate the deployment of green hydrogen worldwide.
Further, ISA and G20 2023 India Presidency are partnering to facilitate the scaling of green hydrogen uptake to promote clean energy transition in the G20 and beyond. This will include the creation of a Centre of Excellence platform that will support the production, utilization, and trade of green hydrogen, besides providing a platform for knowledge sharing, supporting the start-up ecosystem, and building competency in the green hydrogen value chain.
As we stand at a crucial juncture in our fight against climate change, the rise of green hydrogen offers a glimmer of hope. With its ability to decarbonize critical sectors and provide clean energy solutions, green hydrogen has the potential to reshape our future. Governments, businesses, and international organizations must join hands to overcome the challenges and fully embrace this game-changing technology. Doing so can pave the way for a sustainable and resilient world driven by the power of green hydrogen.
Dr Mridula D Bharadwaj is a Consultant with Asian Development Bank, currently on secondment at the International Solar Alliance as Capacity Building Specialist.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.
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