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Moving Toward a Hydrogen Economy: A Global Perspective

13 Oct 2023

The global transition toward a hydrogen-based economy is gaining momentum, driven by the imperative to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. As the world endeavors to achieve carbon-neutrality by mid-century, hydrogen has emerged as a versatile and abundant energy carrier that promises to play a pivotal role. This article provides an overview of how the hydrogen economy is taking shape in various regions, with a focus on the United States.

A Global Hydrogen Revolution

Countries worldwide are recognizing the potential of hydrogen as a clean and sustainable energy source. In the United States, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed in 2021, allocated $9.5 billion for clean hydrogen initiatives. Subsequently, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) introduced additional policies and incentives, solidifying the commitment to hydrogen-based solutions.

The European Union is actively supporting hydrogen through programs like the Clean Hydrogen Partnership and the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance. In China, ambitious plans are in place to deploy 50,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2035, with hydrogen also playing a role in energy storage, electricity generation, and industrial processes. Globally, over 25 countries have launched national hydrogen initiatives, underscoring hydrogen's significance in the energy transition.

Green Hydrogen's Promise

Green hydrogen, produced through renewable energy sources and electrolysis, is central to the energy transition. It, along with other clean fuels like bioethanol, biodiesel, and e-ammonia, is critical for decarbonizing economies still heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Moreover, hydrogen, as the most abundant element, offers the potential for widespread availability.

The Role of Hydrogen in Different Sectors

To realize the full potential of the hydrogen economy, it's essential to decarbonize various sectors, including transportation, heavy industries, and power generation.

Hydrogen-Ready Gas Turbines

A pivotal component in transitioning to hydrogen is the readiness of gas turbines for hydrogen combustion. These turbines, designed for hydrogen mixes and eventually pure hydrogen, enable emission-free energy generation. Some industrial gas turbines are already capable of running on pure hydrogen, with further developments in progress. Manufacturers like Siemens Energy are working toward making all gas turbine frames 100% hydrogen-capable by 2030.

The Need for Infrastructure

While hydrogen-ready turbines are essential, a comprehensive hydrogen economy requires robust infrastructure, from production to transportation and storage. Infrastructure expansion is underway globally, with governments providing substantial support. In the U.S., existing hydrogen infrastructure is set to expand, with plans for clean hydrogen hubs and the utilization of the extensive U.S. Gulf Coast hydrogen network.

A Cleaner Industrial Landscape

Hydrogen's versatility extends to industries that are challenging to electrify, such as steel and cement production. Projects like Salcos aim to reduce natural gas consumption using green hydrogen. The chemical industry also benefits from green hydrogen, as it can replace fossil feedstock, leading to cleaner production methods.

Moreover, green hydrogen facilitates the production of synthetic fuels like e-kerosene, e-methanol, and e-gasoline, supporting the decarbonization of aviation, shipping, and heavy-road transport.

Decarbonization in the Power Sector

The power sector is a significant focus for hydrogen adoption. Regulatory pressures and the commitment to decarbonization are driving the transition. Countries like Sweden, Germany, and the Group of Seven (G7) nations are striving to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 or earlier. The U.S. aims for carbon-pollution-free electricity by 2035, setting the stage for hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants.

Hydrogen Colors

Hydrogen is categorized by colors depending on its production method, ranging from grey (conventional production from natural gas) to green (zero-emission production with renewable electricity). Blue hydrogen, produced with carbon capture and storage (CCS), bridges the gap. The future foresees a balance between blue and green hydrogen, with green hydrogen becoming increasingly competitive.

A Promising Future for Hydrogen

The transition to a hydrogen-based economy is gaining momentum, and while significant developments may take time, the groundwork is laid. Projects worldwide are showcasing the viability of hydrogen, and governments, industries, and manufacturers are collaborating to expedite the hydrogen revolution.


The road to a hydrogen-based economy is marked by significant milestones and growing global support. As hydrogen infrastructure continues to expand and technology advances, the promise of a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future comes closer to realization.

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