Global green hydrogen target nearly doubled to 45GW

A coalition of businesses backed by the United Nations has announced a global plan to deliver 45 gigawatts of green hydrogen capacity by 2027, almost double its initial target.

The Green Hydrogen Catapult (GHC), which counts renewable energy firms Ørstedand Iberdrola, and H2 Green Steel among its members, was established in December under the auspices of the UN’s High Level Champions for Climate Action and is run by clean energy accelerator RMI. At the time, GHC foresaw financing for 25GW of renewably-powered electrolysers being in place by 2026 and being commissioned the following year.

The revised goal was announced on Thursday, COP26’s energy day, and is the largest such commitment from the private sector so far. It comes after a series of investment funds have been launched dedicated to the large-scale production and consumption of hydrogen, with other businesses committing billions of pounds to the nascent industry.

“Green hydrogen is a critical part of a sustainable energy future and one of the largest business opportunities of our time,” said RMI chief executive Jules Kortenhorst. “It’s the key to decarbonizing hard-to-abate sectors like steel manufacturing, shipping and aviation, and I applaud GHC members for their commitment to accelerating the transition,” he added.

The cost of green hydrogen, produced from splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, is steadily falling, as the scale of electrolysers increases. The coalition is aiming for $2 per kilogram - considered a cost tipping point. But it is rivalled by blue hydrogen, which would be produced from natural gas with the CO2 captured and stored – a technology that is only on the drawing board at present.

The increased target is in line with the International Energy Agency’s hydrogen production target for net zero and will contribute substantially to meeting the ‘Glasgow Breakthrough’ on green hydrogen, also announced last week.

“With 80% growth in their capacity commitment in one year, the catapult and its members demonstrate the near-term potential for exponential growth in green hydrogen, enabled by local and global policy support and rapidly growing customer interest,” said Nigel Topping, one of the UN’s two climate champions.

Julie Shuttleworth, chief executive of Fortescue Future Industries, another member of GHC, said: “We are not waiting. The time is now to build the green hydrogen industry.” Her firm aims to supply 15m tonnes of green hydrogen worldwide by 2030.

In support of the goal, the coalition has called for incentives for heavy industry to adopt green hydrogen, public investment in hydrogen pipelines, and ensuring equal market access to energy markets.