3 Trends Fueling the Hydrogen Movement in 2021

Renewable Energy /
3 Trends Fueling the Hydrogen Movement in 2021

The future of hydrogen has arrived. As the most abundant known element in the universe, hydrogen promises efficient, clean energy that produces no direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases. Hydrogen is primarily used to process crude oil into refined fuels, making it a common element in manufacturing and industrial production.

Hydrogen fuel trends show that this renewable energy source has become widespread in other applications like the automotive industry, one of the biggest consumers of petroleum refined products.

With the global hydrogen fuel cells market projected to reach $13.7 billion by 2026, we expect to see greater demand for clean energy, especially electric vehicles. Today, we’ll go over three trends fueling the hydrogen movement in 2021.

1. Growing Public Approval

Demand for hydrogen has more than tripled since 1975. As demand has increased, so has tangible support from government bodies. This has resulted in around 50 targets, mandates, and policy incentives (like the Green Hydrogen Catapult initiative below) directly supporting the future of hydrogen.

For example, 15 countries have policies outlining their targets for hydrogen deployment in passenger cars, paving the road for the future of hydrogen in electric vehicles.

Global spending on hydrogen research and development by national governments peaked in 2008, although it has steadily risen over the past few years. For example, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were initially branded as the “Hydrogen Olympics,” with plans to power much of the infrastructure with clean-burning hydrogen fuel.

Although these plans were scaled back significantly when the Olympics were postponed to 2021, one building in the Olympic Village was entirely powered by hydrogen, demonstrating Japan’s commitment to a hydrogen economy.

2. The Rise of Fuel Cell Vehicles

Because hydrogen fuel produces zero carbon emissions, it has become a popular fuel for electric vehicles. Although internal combustion engines can burn hydrogen, the cleanest way to use hydrogen as an automotive fuel is in fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs).

FCVs combine hydrogen and oxygen from the air to power their motors. Unlike internal combustion engines, fuel cells do not produce carbon dioxide or other harmful air pollutants, only water and heat.

Because hydrogen is poised to act as an alternative sustainable solution to electric power, many auto manufacturers, including BMW and Toyota, have announced plans to develop fleets of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The Hydrogen Fuel Cells Market

According to Goldman Sachs, green hydrogen could supply up to 25 percent of the world’s energy needs by 2050. Hydrogen fuel trends also show that the increased demand for hydrogen fuel cells will drive the market’s growth, at a projected CAGR of 33.1 percent from 2021 to 2026.

The transition to renewable fuel sources is mainly dependent on their potential applications beyond industrial uses. Thanks to significant investment in exploration, production, and refining, the North American region currently dominates hydrogen’s global market.

In August 2020, Air Products Inc. announced plans to build a steam methane reform (SMR) to produce hydrogen, connecting to the world’s largest hydrogen pipeline system in the Gulf Coast.

Other industries like aerospace, metal fabrication, and chemicals have also seen an increase in demand for hydrogen gas. As one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels, the automotive industry dominates the market for hydrogen, which is used to process crude oil into refined fuels like gasoline and diesel.

However, the automotive industry is also shifting toward alternative clean energy sources to reduce carbon emissions.

3. Green Hydrogen Catapult Initiative

Hydrogen fuel trends have shown that the increased reliance on hydrogen and fuel cells-based public transportation systems will drive market growth, along with ongoing product development and innovation.

A leading example is the Green Hydrogen Catapult Initiative, founded by seven of the biggest green hydrogen project developers. The initiative strives for a 50-fold expansion of green hydrogen production by 2026.

This initiative aims to cut the cost of hydrogen to $2/kg, helping lower emissions from carbon-intensive industries like shipping and power generation. According to a recent analysis, this cost cut will enable hydrogen and its derivative fuels to compete in multiple sectors, like steel and fertilizer production and long-range shipping.

Decreased production costs will also allow for a sustainable and profitable hydrogen production industry.

“Gray hydrogen” is extracted from natural gas and contributes to carbon emissions. In contrast, “green” hydrogen uses electrolysis, a process that splits water using electricity generated from low-carbon sources.

Because green hydrogen does not come from fossil fuels, it is the cleanest version of hydrogen production available. Scaling up green hydrogen production can push global economies to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

FASTECH: A Clean Energy Leader

As renewable electricity becomes even more affordable, building more hydrogen infrastructure is the next step toward the future of hydrogen. Even after accounting for the costs of transporting hydrogen from remote locations to end-users, hydrogen infrastructure powered by renewable energy is still a low-cost supply option for hydrogen.

FASTECH provides complete end-to-end services in the hydrogen fuel marketplace to support the expansion of hydrogen infrastructure, including consultation, design, construction, maintenance, and compliance.

To date, FASTECH has built over 30 hydrogen stations for leading corporations and energy providers, including Toyota and Air Products Inc.

To learn more about hydrogen infrastructure and how FASTECH can help you build alternative fueling facilities, contact us today.

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