RENEWABLES: Understanding the Carbon Footprint of Clean Hydrogen – WEF on GEO´
12 April 2023
- Global efforts are underway to scale up the production, storage and use of hydrogen as a clean fuel.
- Despite emerging regulatory frameworks, challenges remain around the carbon intensity of hydrogen.
- Recent data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory was used to calculate the indicative carbon footprint of green hydrogen production.
The use of hydrogen as a clean fuel is not a new idea. Past hydrogen economy deployment efforts have been generally unsuccessful due to insufficient technology maturity, difficult economics, and lack of supportive policy frameworks. Today equipment required to produce, store, and utilise hydrogen is commercially ready and global efforts to produce it at scale are ramping up.
In addition, regulatory frameworks such as the Paris Agreement and more recently the European Green Deal, Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and formation of the European Hydrogen Bank are quickly making the hydrogen industry a reality. In particular, the IRA is a strong economic enabler providing subsidies of up to $3 per kg H2. Despite significant efforts, the hydrogen industry is yet to address numerous technical, economic and policy challenges. One of these challenges revolves around hydrogen’s carbon intensity and colour nomenclature.
Carbon footprint of energy technologies
While our societal awareness of fossil fuels and their respective carbon footprints has evolved over last two decades, we tend to forget that renewable energy generation is not entirely zero-carbon. Generally, renewable energy technologies have significantly lower carbon footprints compared to their fossil fuel counterparts, however, in certain cases their carbon emissions over a lifetime can be significant.
The majority of these emissions come from manufacturing processes, which today rely heavily on fossil fuel based electricity or various forms of carbon for processing respective components. For example, the steel used in the majority of these technologies is responsible for roughly 7-9% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Also, poly-silicon production relies on coal to reduce silica and produce metallurgical grade silicon with the intention to convert it further into solar panels or other semiconductor uses. Learn More /…
About WEF (World Economic Forum)
The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does. Learn More /…
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