Hydrogen at a glance

Hydrogen is expected to play a major role in the energy transition. As an energy vector, it can be used to produce other molecules, such as ammonia or e-fuels, thereby contributing to the decarbonization of hard-to-abate sectors, such as aviation and maritime transport, or fertilizer production.
The demand for hydrogen is projected to experience a remarkable surge of approximately 700 percent in the next three decades. To achieve the target of net zero by 2050, the majority of energy will need to come from clean sources.


At the heart of its Agenda 2030, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. The hydrogen economy has the potential to particularly contribute to the SDGs 13 (Climate Action), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure).


Hydrogen Production

Hydrogen can be produced in a number of ways, all of which involve different levels of greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions, as well as energy and resource consumption. Although hydrogen itself is a colorless gas, colors are used to identify the different production routes and their resulting impact on the climate.


Most of the hydrogen produced today is derived from fossil fuels. Brown hydrogen is the result of a process called gasification, which is the extraction of hydrogen from coal. Grey hydrogen is produced from natural gas through a process called steam methane reforming. Both production methods emit large amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO₂) into the atmosphere and therefore cannot make a positive contribution to the green transition.


Blue hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, such as natural gas. However, unlike brown and grey hydrogen, the production process involves carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. The purpose of storing the CO₂ emitted during the production process underground is to reduce the amount of CO₂ released into the atmosphere. The greatest issue is that these technologies require a huge amount of additional energy to capture, transport, and store CO₂.


Green hydrogen is the only sustainable form of hydrogen, as it is solely produced using electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind power. In a process called electrolysis, the main component, the electrolyzer splits water (HO) into hydrogen (H₂) and oxygen (O₂). No harmful greenhouse gases are emitted during the production of green hydrogen.


Specifically designed to work under fluctuating conditions of renewable power generation.


Hydrogen Usage Areas

The mobility sector must significantly reduce emissions. Hydrogen technologies can be a useful contribution to the mobility mix in a number of areas. Green hydrogen can be used in fuel cells to generate electricity that can then power electric motors in cars, buses, trains, and even airplanes and ships, thereby helping to decarbonize air, sea, rail, and heavy-duty transportation.

Used as a feedstock for producing chemicals like ammonia and methanol, or as a fuel for industrial processes, green hydrogen can be used in a variety of industrial applications that are hard to electrify, such as steel production, chemical manufacturing, and refining.

When renewable energy sources like wind power are producing more energy than what is needed at a given moment, the excess energy can be used to produce green hydrogen. Compressed, and stored in ad hoc tanks, the hydrogen can be used later when energy demand is higher.