The urgency to ramp up investment in industrial-scale hydrogen energy projects is consequently greater than ever, according to the Hydrogen Council’s report.

While the value of FIDs has grown $2bn to $22bn in the last half year, it is “significantly slower” than the growth in announcements, which are now up to 680 large-scale proposals, and worth $240bn in direct investment.

The biggest gap between announced projects and projects required to achieve net zero is in hydrogen infrastructure, the report states. Only 10% of currently proposed investments focus on hydrogen infrastructure, highlighting an investment gap of about 85% to the required $200bn in spending through to 2030.

The next step by industry, investors and governments is to quickly ramp up FIDs in order to jump start project construction and operations as quickly as possible.

Yoshinori Kanehana, Chairman of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Co-Chair of the Hydrogen Council, said, “With the growing concerns around energy security, it is clear our economies need hydrogen. But on-the-ground deployment is not moving fast enough and needs to accelerate to realize the benefits of hydrogen.

“This report proposes a series of priority actions for both policymakers and industry to overcome the challenges and accelerate large-scale hydrogen deployment.

“In addition, the report helps us understand the current state of the global hydrogen economy by highlighting what’s really happening in terms of deployment, financing and investment, as well as offering predictions for the future.”

Tom Linebarger, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Cummins Inc. and Co-Chair of the Hydrogen Council, said climate change is the existential crisis of our time, and it will require businesses and governments working together to address it and we must do more now.

“To move to a zero emissions future, we must have multiple solutions available for our customers who require vastly different applications around the world and hydrogen will play a critically important role,” he said.

While Europe leads in proposed investments (~30%), North America and Latin America follow with about 20% each. China is slightly ahead on actual deployment of electrolysers (200 MW), while Japan and South Korea are leading in fuel cells (more than half of the world’s 11 GW manufacturing capacity).

Giga-scale project proposals (over 1 GW of electrolysis for renewable or more than 200,000MT a year of low-carbon hydrogen supply) account for 61 projects, of which 18 have been announced since the previous publication. Of these, 45 are renewable and 16 low-carbon hydrogen.

For the world to be on track for net zero emissions by 2050, investments of some $700bn in hydrogen are needed through 2030 – only 3% of this capital is committed today. Ambition and proposals by themselves do not translate into positive impact on climate change; investments and implementation on the ground is needed.

Both governments and industry need to act to implement immediate actions for 2022 to 2023 – policymakers need to enable demand visibility, roll out funding support, and ensure international coordination; industry needs to increase supply chain capability and capacity, advance projects towards final investment decision (FID), and develop infrastructure for cross-border trade, the report adds.

The Council report goes on to note that the 2030 hydrogen investment figure is equivalent to less than 15% of investment committed to upstream oil and gas over the past decade.

Announced investments in hydrogen end-uses through 2030 account for about $60bn and encompass fuel cell vehicles (sales up 65% from 2020-2021), the deployment of methanol and ammonia synthesis plants (of which some capacity is intended for export), or the use of hydrogen in clean steelmaking or power applications.

One bright spot has seen the deployment of hydrogen technologies and projects gradually growing across the value chain, with progress in hydrogen supply, transmission and distribution, and end-uses in the past year. About 700 hydrogen stations were installed globally by the end of 2021.