The global Hydrogen Council, a coalition of more than 20 transportation and energy companies that include General Motors Co. in Detroit and Faurecia, a Tier 1 automotive supplier in Auburn Hills, has released a new study that shows hydrogen has the potential to develop $2.5 trillion (U.S.) of business and create more than 30 million jobs by 2050.
Deployed at scale, hydrogen could account for almost one-fifth of total final energy consumed by 2050, the study reports. This would reduce annual CO2 emissions by roughly 6 gigatons compared to today’s levels, and contribute roughly 20 percent of the abatement required to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius.
On the demand side, the Hydrogen Council sees the potential for hydrogen to power about 10 to 15 million cars and 500,000 trucks by 2030, with many uses in other sectors as well, such as industry processes and feedstocks, building heating and power, power generation, and storage.
Overall, the study predicts that the annual demand for hydrogen could increase tenfold by 2050 to almost 80 EJ (exajoules) in 2050, which would meet 18 percent of total final energy demand in the 2050 two-degree scenario. At a time when global populations are expected to grow by two billion people by 2050 (9.2 billion people total), hydrogen technologies have the potential to create opportunities for sustainable economic growth.
“The world in the 21st century must transition to widespread low carbon energy use,” says Takeshi Uchiyamada, chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. and co-chair of the Hydrogen Council. “Hydrogen is an indispensable resource to achieve this transition because it can be used to store and transport wind, solar, and other renewable electricity to power transportation and many other things. The Hydrogen Council has identified seven roles for hydrogen, which is why we are encouraging governments and investors to give it a prominent role in their energy plans. The sooner we get the hydrogen economy going, the better, and we are all committed to making this a reality.”
Achieving such scale would require substantial investments; approximately $20 to 25 billion annually for a total of about $280 billion until 2030. Within the right regulatory framework – including long-term, stable coordination and incentive policies – the report considers that attracting these investments to scale the technology is feasible. The world already invests more than $1.7 trillion in energy each year, including $650 billion in oil and gas, $300 billion in renewable electricity, and more than $300 billion in the automotive industry.
“This study confirms the place of hydrogen as a central pillar in the energy transition, and encourages us in our support of its large-scale deployment. Hydrogen will be an unavoidable enabler for the energy transition in certain sectors and geographies. The sooner we make this happen the sooner we will be able to enjoy the needed benefits of Hydrogen at the service of our economies and our societies,” says Benoît Potier, chairman and CEO of Air Liquide. “Solutions are technologically mature and industry players are committed. We need concerted stakeholder efforts to make this happen; leading this effort is the role of the Hydrogen Council.”