Decarbonisation Technology May 2022 Issue

Transitioning away from fossil fuels Fossil fuels make up more than 80% of the global energy sector. To reach net zero by 2050, huge declines in the use of coal, oil, and gas will be essential. Like all countries committed to mitigating climate change, Canada must transition away from burning fossil fuels and releasing CO 2 into the atmosphere. A growing number of renewable energy alternatives have surfaced in recent years. Scientists committed to finding ways to reduce emissions of CO 2 and other warming agents are at the forefront of these developing technologies, such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, ocean energy, geothermal, biomass, and hydrogen. In the search for renewable, resilient energy carriers, hydrogen is making headway as a reliable and cost-effective solution in many market applications. Hydrogen, however, is not an energy source; it must be produced from available energy and feedstock resources, and its own production must be clean in order for it to affect GHG reductions. Building clean hydrogen production pathways that utilise abundant and low-cost hydrocarbon resources and leverage existing infrastructure is a key enabler to transforming the oil and gas industry into a clean hydrogen industry and accelerating positive GHG emissions abatement. Hydrogen market and decarbonisation The hydrogen market is large. Today's global demand is approximately 70 million tonnes of

hydrogen per year, and the total annual market value is estimated at $180 billion (US). Most of this hydrogen is used to serve 'over-the-fence', large-scale industrial applications, primarily as an industry feedstock for petroleum refineries, upgraders, and ammonia production. Global hydrogen demand is expected to grow significantly over the next decades. Forecasts project that global hydrogen demand will exceed 500 Mt-H 2 /year by 2050. Growth will primarily be driven in new applications, where hydrogen can act as an energy currency to decarbonise tough-to-decarbonise markets, such as heavy-duty transportation, industrial heating, power generation, and natural gas decarbonisation. Methods of hydrogen production Hydrogen is not an energy source. Hydrogen, like electricity, is an energy currency that can be used as a carrier for conducting energy transactions, such as heat and power generation, or as a feedstock for industrial processes, like ammonia production. And like electricity, hydrogen must be produced from available energy and feedstock resources. So the production of hydrogen is a key consideration for its role in the evolving energy system and its potential impact on mitigating GHG emissions. The numerous techniques for hydrogen production are often described in terms of colours, which are really no more than nicknames used to describe the production

Global H demand (2020)

Clean H demand forecast (2050)

70 MT-H per year

540 MT-H per year





Industrial H



Petroleum recovery & rening Ammonia production Methanol production

Power generation




~70M metric tons of H 2 produced annually



Metal production Electronics mfg.

Industrial energy



Building heat and power

Other Food industry


Industry feedstock

Global GHG emissions: ~700 Mt-CO /year e


~1.3% of global GHGs

Figure 1 Comparison of the demand and forecasted demand for global hydrogen production


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