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Clean hydrogen can cut 34 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050: BNEF

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ET Energy World
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Deploying clean hydrogen could cut up to 34 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and industry by 2050 at a manageable cost, according to a latest report by researcher firm BloombergNEF (BNEF). The report titled ‘Hydrogen Economy Outlook’ added that this would only be possible if policies are put in place to help scale up technology and drive down costs with about $150 billion of subsidies needed to be rolled-out over the next decade. According to the report, the falling cost of making hydrogen from wind and solar power offers a promising route to cut emissions in sectors such as steel, heavy-duty vehicles, shipping, and cement. “Hydrogen has potential to become the fuel that powers a clean economy. In the years ahead, it will be possible to produce it at low cost using wind and solar power, to store it underground for months, and then to pipe it on-demand to power everything from ships to steel mills,” said Kobad Bhavnagri, head of industrial decarbonisation for BNEF and lead author of the report. The report added that renewable hydrogen can be produced for $0.8 per kg to $1.6 per kg in most parts of the world before 2050. This is equivalent to gas priced at $6-12 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), making it competitive with current natural gas prices in Brazil, China, India, Germany and Scandinavia on an energy-equivalent basis. “When including the cost of storage and pipeline infrastructure, the delivered cost of renewable hydrogen in China, India, and Western Europe could fall to about $2 per kg in 2030 and $1 per kg in 2050,” BNEF said in its report. Hydrogen is a clean-burning molecule that can be used as a substitute for coal, oil and gas in a large variety of applications. But, for its use to have net environmental benefits, it must be produced from clean sources, rather than from unabated fossil fuel processes. Renewable hydrogen can be made by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, using electricity generated by cheap wind or solar power. According to the report, clean hydrogen can also be made using fossil fuels if the carbon is captured and stored, but this is likely to be more expensive. However, the report added that storing and moving hydrogen is challenging. “For instance, three to four times more storage infrastructure would need to be built at a cost of $637 billion by 2050 to provide the same level of energy security as natural gas,” the research firm said. According to Bhavnagri, if the clean hydrogen industry can scale up, many of the hard-to-abate sectors could be decarbonised using hydrogen, at surprisingly low costs. For hydrogen to gain use, policy is critical as the industry is currently tiny and costs are high. “This needs policy coordination across government, frameworks for private investment, and the roll-out of around $150 billion of subsidies over the next decade,” he added. But according to the BNEF study, at present, the outlook for a hydrogen economy is still uncertain, as there is insufficient policy to support investment and to scale up the industry

Author: Sustainability Outlook Desk