Het rapport komt samenvattend tot de volgende conclusies (in het Engels):
The report looked in some detail at the prospects for hydrogen demand and supply, together with the associated policy developments for France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and the UK. With such a wide scope it is difficult to summarise the conclusions in a few paragraphs, but some overall themes can be identified.
For demand, looking out to 2050 and even in the shorter term to 2030, there is a very wide range of forecasts for each of the countries considered. This is largely based on widely varying assumptions of the extent to which different sectors will become significant for hydrogen consumption. In particular, space heating and transport show large variations depending on assumptions over the extent to which consumers will adopt electric solutions (heat pumps and BEVs respectively). Larger uptake of electrical solutions, which, where they are possible, typically have a higher efficiency, will lead to a smaller role for low-carbon hydrogen. The use of hydrogen to decarbonise industry is a common theme in projections for all countries and provides a solid baseline for potential hydrogen demand, at least for initial development until 2030. Longer term, there is a possibility that heavy industry may relocate to those regions, both within and outside Europe, with large and low-cost renewable energy potential, but that should not constrain initial development of low-carbon hydrogen supply within Europe. There also appears to be considerable uncertainty regarding the level of hydrogen demand for power generation. Consistent with net-zero, there appear to be limited options for long-term energy storage to cover those periods (beyond the capability of batteries) when wind and solar power generation is limited by weather conditions. Hydrogen appears to be one of the more promising options for this role and may provide considerable upside for hydrogen demand.
On the supply side, even over the six countries considered in this study, there is a wide variety of different approaches being considered and for different reasons. Blue hydrogen is only being considered in the Netherlands and the UK, where public and government opinion regarding carbon capture and storage, at least as a transition solution, is more favourable. Green hydrogen is favoured in the southern European countries of Spain and Italy, perhaps with some justification as the higher incidence of solar irradiation leads to lower-cost solar PV electricity. Germany is also focused on green hydrogen mainly because of the societal unacceptability of carbon capture and storage. We remain unconvinced of the logic for significant investment in hydrogen from electrolysis as long as marginal incremental power generation is provided by fossil fuels. It would be more logical to focus on blue hydrogen initially, until around 2030 when there should be sufficient large-scale renewable power generation to justify significant investment in electrolysis. France is perhaps the outlier among the countries considered, on account of its high share of nuclear power generation. While it remains uncertain to what extent France will continue to rely on nuclear power in the future, at this stage, consideration is being given to hydrogen production using nuclear electricity to drive electrolysers at times of low electricity demand.
Comparing supply and demand projections, it is clear that at least until 2030 total low-carbon hydrogen supply (both blue and green) will be lower than the existing industrial use of grey hydrogen. Thus, there is scope for the production of low-carbon hydrogen to be accelerated, without any limitation on demand. That statement, however, ignores pricing considerations, since without clear policy drivers, existing users of grey hydrogen will have little incentive to switch to higher cost low-carbon hydrogen. It will also be important in the next few years for policy to clarify the extent to which new infrastructure investments should be made “hydrogen ready”. This could, for example, apply to a stipulation that all new gas boilers in buildings should be hydrogen ready, although this will not be required if electric heat pumps become the preferred solution for heat for buildings. Similarly, it may be beneficial to stipulate that new gas-fired power plants should be designed for ready conversion to hydrogen in future.
Thus, government policy remains key to driving the growth of low-carbon hydrogen production. Each of the countries considered has an evolving policy framework relating to low-carbon hydrogen, and all have either published, or are working on, ambitious hydrogen strategies. As yet, there is little clarity on the precise policy mechanisms which will be put in place to enable the required investments which will lead to significant low-carbon hydrogen production. It is expected that in the course of 2021 further clarity on such mechanisms will be provided by further EU directives and policy publications from individual country governments. OIES and EWI intend to follow such developments and provide further commentary as appropriate.