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The Need to Scale Up Hydrogen – Part I

Advanced Energy

By Rauli Partanen

Jan 5, 2021

This is part 1 of a four-part series on clean hydrogen and how to bring its costs down.

Most mainstream energy scenarios read like a climate catastrophe. Even with heroic buildout of renewable energy and massive electrification, the growth in total energy demand will mean that even if the share of fossil fuels comes down from 85% to 75% or even 60%, we will still use around as much fossil fuels mid-century as we do today. This means, in practice, that we would be well on our way to a global warming of 3-4 degrees C, with dire consequences both for human civilization and the living environment on our planet.

Much of these fossil fuels will be used in “difficult-to-decarbonize” sectors, outside the electricity grid. Industrial processes, natural gas heating, international shipping and aviation, long-haul trucking, steel and other metal production, chemical industry feedstock, and so forth.

Hydrogen, and clean fuels we can make with it, are among the most prominent options available to decarbonize these sectors, and drive much of the 60-70% of fossil fuels use we still see in mainstream scenarios by mid-century. If we cannot do it with hydrogen, there is even less chance we can do it with anything else. The first key point to keep in mind is that this undertaking is enormous. It is not a small subsection of our electricity grid. It is several times larger than our current electricity grid.


The images and data are from: Missing Link to a Livable Climate – How Hydrogen-enabled Synthetic Fuels Can Help Deliver the Paris Goals. LucidCatalyst 2020.


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