New DNV report predicts that the amount of hydrogen in the energy mix will be only 0.5 percent in 2030 and 5 percent in 2050

Robin Whitlock discusses the new DNV Hydrogen Forecast to 2050  in an article on the Renewable Energy Magazine website, noting that while it has a crucial role to play in global decarbonisation, update will be too slow without urgent, significant, policy interventions. DNV forecasts hydrogen to meet a third of what is required for Paris goals. What are your views?


Hydrogen could become the great missed opportunity of the energy transition says DNV

A new report by DNV, Hydrogen Forecast to 2050, predicts that although hydrogen has a crucial role in global decarbonisation, uptake will be too slow without urgent, significant, policy interventions by governments.

The DNV report predicts that the amount of hydrogen in the energy mix will be only 0.5 percent in 2030 and 5 percent in 2050.  However, to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, hydrogen uptake would need to triple to meet 15 percent of energy demand by mid-century.

“Hydrogen is essential to decarbonise sectors that cannot be electrified, like aviation, maritime, and high-heat manufacturing and should therefore be prioritised for these sectors” said Remi Eriksen, Group President and CEO of DNV.  “Policies do not match hydrogen’s importance. They will also need to support the scaling of renewable energy generation and carbon capture and storage as crucial elements in producing low-carbon hydrogen.”

According to Hydrogen Forecast to 2050, electricity-based green hydrogen – produced by splitting hydrogen from water using electrolysers – will be the dominant form of production by the middle of the century, accounting for 72 percent of output. This will require a surplus of renewable energy, to power an electrolyser capacity of 3,100 gigawatts.  This is more than twice the total installed generation capacity of solar and wind today.

Blue hydrogen – produced from natural gas with emissions captured – has a greater role to play in the shorter term (around 30 percent of total production in 2030), but its competitiveness will reduce as renewable energy capacity increases and prices drop.

Global spend on producing hydrogen for energy purposes from now until 2050 will be USD 6.8 trillion, with an additional USD 180 billion spent on hydrogen pipelines and USD 530 billion on building and operating ammonia terminals, according to DNV’s forecasts.

Cost considerations will lead to more than 50 percent of hydrogen pipelines globally being repurposed from natural gas pipelines, as the cost to repurpose pipelines is expected to be just 10-35 percent of new construction costs. Hydrogen will be transported by pipelines up to medium distances within and between countries, but not between continents. Global hydrogen trade will also be limited by the high cost of liquefying hydrogen for ship transport and the low energy density of hydrogen. The hydrogen derivative ammonia, which is more stable and can be more readily transported by ship, will be traded globally.

Early uptake of hydrogen will be led by hard-to-abate, high-heat manufacturing processes such as iron and steel production which currently use coal and natural gas. Hydrogen derivatives, such as ammonia and methanol, are key to decarbonizing heavy transport like shipping and aviation, but these fuels won’t scale until the 2030s according to DNV’s forecasts.

Hydrogen will not see uptake in passenger vehicles, and only limited uptake in power generation. Hydrogen for heating of buildings will not scale globally, but will see early uptake in some regions that already have extensive gas infrastructure.

“Scaling hydrogen value chains will require managing safety risk and public acceptance, as well as employing policies to make hydrogen projects competitive and bankable” added Mr Eriksen. “We need to plan at the level of energy systems, enabling societies to embrace the urgent decarbonization opportunities presented by hydrogen.”

The uptake of hydrogen will differ significantly by region, heavily influenced by policy. Europe is the forerunner with hydrogen set to take 11 percent of the energy mix by 2050, as enabling policies both kickstart the scaling of hydrogen production and stimulate end-use. OECD Pacific (hydrogen 8 percent of energy mix in 2050) and North America (7 percent) regions also have strategies, targets, and funding pushing the supply-side, but have lower carbon-prices and less concrete targets and policies. Greater China (6 percent) follows on, recently providing more clarity on funding and hydrogen prospects towards 2035, coupled with an expanding national emissions trading scheme. These four regions will together consume two-thirds of global hydrogen demand for energy purposes by 2050.

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8 thoughts on “New DNV report predicts that the amount of hydrogen in the energy mix will be only 0.5 percent in 2030 and 5 percent in 2050

  1. Already, too many voices raising solid questions about feasibility of using H2 for heat & power (at least).
    This was known and explained before by many experts, but not Eu Commission, which tends to be a lawyer with some knowledge about energy, instead of energy expert with some knowledge about laws
    I’m afraid that juridical laws and regulations will replace the other laws issued Joule, Carnot, Rankine, etc., and other “old parlamentaries”

      1. Thanks so much for this, Mike. I was expecting more from DNV. You’ve highlighted a lot of important shortcomings.

  2. It’s not a bad report but, as is so often the case, important numbers are missing, specifically, LCOEs for various renewables. To keep things simple I will assume parity – USD vs Euro and converting from kg to kWh I will take the LHV of H2. The report asserts that green H2 will cost circa 4.54eurocents/kWh by 2050. I have project in the UK using on-shore wind that will deliver H2 @ 6eurocent/kWh. Not much change in 30 years??

    Moving on to PV: the claim is 9ecents/KWh, the reality in Spain, right now is 4eurocents/kWh (based on auction results for recent PV-MW-class projects (prices around €30/MWh – but one could cite Portugal with below €15/MWh). Off-shore wind comes in at 12eurocents/kWh which seems a bit “off” given LCOEs are rolling around €50/MWh ish.

    Looking at the end of the report – references, there is a lot from the IEA – who has a very long (20+ years) and ignoble track record of getting things wrong both on renewables and hydrogen. The price assumptions in the report, seem to “build” on the IEA’s approach – they don’t mention electricity costs and conjure up figures from thin air and as the above shows, seem to over-state costs. It is almost as if the report was written with the partial aim of getting the maximum of subsidies to green (or blue) H2.

    Another example (this time understating costs) is Table 3.2 (page 51) Blue-H2 costs. DNV has taken this from a DNV report of 2021 and you will look in vain in either report to find the cost-base for CH4 – which underpins the LCOH of blue.

    Perhaps DNV should have stuck with the stuff where they show clear expertise, safety (that was interesting). As for the rest, in terms of LCOH, I work with MSc students that can get me more accurate figures.

  3. Mike, to cut the things short: I would assume “0” cost (whatever EUR or USD !?) for green hydrogen to generate power & heat and still, it would be a non-sense (let’s forget about exergies, but, considering the costs of whole infrastructure, new adjusted for H2 equipment, “drying-up” rivers to generate clean water-and associated consequences-water, becoming more and more a valuable resource, etc., etc.)
    I am referring to my country here, where, ~4 mill. houses are heated with 20 mill. t biomass, fired in stoves with ~20-50% efficiency, which, in primary energy terms, it means more than the Uranium consumed by the 2×700 MWe Nuclear plant in Cernavoda…which, by the way, it is producing electricity only !…but, if I would use that biomass in micro/medium/ big cogen plants, I would produce THAT power + corresponding HEAT !…
    But the “virus” named Green Hydrogen has contaminated the heads of our politicians and other “experts” who have no clue about what does it mean “energy efficiency first” as our “step-mother” EC is repeating….maybe we should “lock them down”…
    There are so many things, more economic and much simpler, to do before H2, everywhere in the energy sector – storage included !

    1. I am develoiping a community energy project. 220 households (1970s houses – gas heating) Roof top PV, multi-MW class wind turbine (0ne) MWh-class battery storage, MW-class electrolyser. No shortage of water. Business case is good for 100% RES elec and 100% space heating via green H2. Don’t need subsidies for CAPEX or OPEX. There are another 14 possible projects of a similar tuyoe within a 20km radius of the first. oh & no space in the houses for heat pumps. Green-H2 coming in at less than CH4. You were saying?

  4. I’m doing the same for 2 small municipalities, zero fossil fuels, zero hydrogen (it is not available anyway, but, still I believe not competitive anyway, now and in the next 30 years) as follows:
    – 1-st city: cogen on biomass and RDF + TP (thermal panels) + LHP (Large Heat Pumps for DH, powered by cogen-thus green)
    – 2-nd city: 25 MW wind farm on nearby hills, supplying DIRECTLY (no connection to grid) through a 20 KV cable power to a CHP-BATTERY (for electrifying the heat – remember the concept ?), where the intermittent electricity goes into a sensible HT storage to power a CHP (this one delivers power to grid when I wish !). The system is hybridised with a small biomass boiler “just in case”). This system will never be matched by any green hydrogen in the next 50 years, in terms of simplicity, risks, and economics .
    H2 didn’t enter in “the competition”. In your case, having the Wind available, why to go through H2 since you could get heat through a trivial heat storage + HP eventually
    Now, you were saying ?

    1. Reuse the existing gas grid for H2 – simples. & single WT – much easier to get permission. No need to build anything apart from the energy centre and the RES. More interested in small towns and villages.

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