"Records are there to be broken", the saying goes. But this doesn't apply equally for all the best performances. The latest data recorded by Copernicus, the land monitoring service, for instance, give cause for concern: not only was a global temperature record reached last year, but greenhouse gas concentrations rose to a new high in 2020. The consequences of these trends are already being seen today in the form of hurricanes, forest fires and melting permafrost. To ensure that even more catastrophic scenarios do not become reality, however, an increasing number of countries are engaging in climate protection. Last autumn, even China set a target date for carbon neutrality – 2060 –for the first time.
Business and politicians have long recognised that emission-free energy generation will be a critical factor in the fight against greenhouse gases. To enable fossil fuels such as oil and coal to be phased out in the future, experts are turning ever more often to hydrogen. Whether used for driving cars or heating buildings, the great versatility of H₂ could make it the energy source of the future. McKinsey & Company expect hydrogen to play a key role in the transformation to carbon-neutral aviation, among other areas. According to their calculations, this would allow the global warming effect of flying to be reduced by 50 to 90%. In addition, the molecule could help to enable the emissions reduction targets set out in the European Union's Green Deal to be achieved.
On the subject of the Green Deal, at the end of 2019 the EU Commission agreed to make Europe carbon-neutral by the year 2050. Brussels is setting aside a lot of money to ensure it reaches this target, with a total of EURbn 1,000 to be invested by 2030. The centrepiece of the strategy is the use of cleaner fuels such as renewable hydrogen. While sales in the hydrogen sector in Europe come to EURbn 2 at the moment, targeted investment should see revenue racing towards EURbn 140 by 2030. Between 2020 and 2024 alone, the EU Commission wants to ensure that the generation of renewable hydrogen reaches an output of at least 6 Gigawatt, compared with around 1 GW at present. Electrolysis output of at least 40 GW is then to be installed by 2030. At the same time, with government support the production of climate-friendly hydrogen is set to grow to as much as 10 million tons.
The USA, too, is experiencing a sea-change when it comes to ecological energy generation. With the imminent arrival of Joe Biden in the White House, there will also be some changes in the country's environmental policies. The incoming US president would like to play his part in protecting the planet with a USDtn 2 climate plan. Here, as in the EU, hydrogen will take on a particularly important role. Biden is looking to invest some USDbn 400 in the research and development of environmentally-friendly technologies such as green hydrogen. The worldwide efforts should lead to the lightest and most frequently occurring element in the universe enjoying a key role in the future. The Hydrogen Council reckons that the global hydrogen industry could reach a volume of USDtn 2.5 by 2050. This would correspond to about 18% of global energy demand.
Source: European Commission
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