In January 2017, a group of 13 CEOs and executives gathered in Davos, Switzerland, to launch the Hydrogen Council with an ambition to "position hydrogen among the key solutions for the energy transition." More than four years later, no one can argue that the initiative is anything but a resounding success. Whether you believe the frenzy is justified or overhyped, hydrogen is now top of mind for anyone with a stake in the global energy transition.
Using our news commentary feature, we have been tracking key developments in the hydrogen sector, covering more than 250 individual developments across the industry. These innovation-related events range from partnerships and investments to recent R&D and policies. Each news commentary includes information about the companies involved and our take on the development.
The news trend analysis is one of the main factors shaping the Lux Energy Team's hydrogen outlook for 2021 and beyond. In the below figure, we analyze the activity of Q1 2021 in the hydrogen economy.
As we enter the second quarter of the year, we take a look back at the "Truly Disruptive" and "Very Important" developments over the past three months. In addition, we have selected the most read and discussed innovation-related events.
- Haldor Topsoe commercializing SOEC electrolysis. Haldor Topsoe will build a 500 MW solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC) manufacturing facility by 2023, with the possibility of eventual expansion to 5 GW.
- H2Pro secures investment from BEV and Sumitomo. The startup secured $22 million to commercialize its novel electrolyzer that decouples hydrogen and oxygen generation, resulting in an energy efficiency of up to 93%.
- Air Liquide and Siemens partner for large-scale electrolyzer projects. The first collaboration will be in Normandy, France, for a 200 MW hydrogen plant.
- BP planning the U.K.'s largest blue hydrogen plant. The plant will have a capacity of 1 GW, which is enough to provide approximately 20% of the U.K.'s hydrogen target by 2030.
- Sunfire acquires IHT for high-pressure alkaline electrolysis. Sunfire can now provide near-term and commercial-scale green hydrogen solutions to customers as it continues to develop its core solid oxide electrolyzer technology.
Heat and Power:
- Ineos and Engie to decarbonize CHP with hydrogen. The companies intend to use up to 20% hydrogen in a gas turbine in a CHP plant connected to Ineos Phenol's operation. The project will gather data for the development of hydrogen gas turbines.
- Mitsubishi Power initiates the development of industrial-scale ammonia turbines. The planned 40 MW turbines will be the world's largest turbines running on 100% ammonia fuel.
- Engie and Total to integrate electrolyzer in biorefinery. The two companies plan to launch a 40 MW electrolyzer at Total's La Mède renewable diesel refinery in France. If the project secures the required financial support and authorizations, it will launch in 2024.
- Shell to expand 10 MW pilot to 100 MW commercial project. This tenfold expansion and addition of biofuels capabilities to the refinery is no surprise; refining is an existing market for low-carbon hydrogen, which eases adoption of electrolysis technology.
- Thyssenkrupp joins Enerkem's planned MSW-to-fuels project. Thyssenkrupp produces green hydrogen and oxygen, both of which will be used by Enerkem to convert MSW to fuel. With a projected capacity of 88 MW, this is one of the largest electrolyzer projects set to come online in the next five years.
- France and Sweden considering billion-dollar green steel plants. Liberty Steel and H2 Green Steel are planning separate greenfield steel plants in France and Sweden, respectively, using hydrogen-based direct reduced iron (DRI) technology.
- Yara adds new partners for large-scale green ammonia plants. The company will work with Statkraft & Aker Horizons to electrify and decarbonize its existing ammonia plant in Norway with green hydrogen.
- SK Innovation invests $1.5 billion in Plug Power. The investment in Plug Power is a complementary partnership that enables full vertical integration in the hydrogen economy and immediately makes SK Innovation one of the leaders in Asia's early hydrogen economy.
- Renault and Plug Power partner for JV plans. The intent is to launch a 50-50 joint venture (JV) by the middle of 2021 to target Europe's light commercial vehicle (LCV) market.
- Scania to focus on BEV over FCEV. While Scania acknowledges hydrogen as a practical energy carrier in a low-carbon future, it cites current cost concerns and shortcomings related to production and distribution that do not make it viable in the near term.
Storage and Transport:
- Hydrogenious LOHC to launch industrial-scale hydrogen storage plant. It will be the company's first industrial unit and will have a storage capacity of 1,800 tonnes of hydrogen per year, using benzyltoluene as an organic carrier.
- Port of Amsterdam sets up alliance for hydrogen transport. The Port will work together with Hydrogenious, HySiLabs, and Electriq Global to explore the feasibility of transporting and storing up to 1 million tonnes of hydrogen per year.
Policy and Strategy:
- U.K. publishes blueprint for "hydrogen town." Its H21 projects constitute the most detailed and most practical study of the feasibility and planning of converting an entire country's natural gas grid to hydrogen.
- Sinopec to become China's largest hydrogen energy company. In response to China's 14th Five-Year Plan, Sinopec will significantly increase its footprint in the hydrogen industry and will start by building 1,000 hydrogen fueling stations by 2025.
- Hyundai Motor and SK Group form "hydrogen alliance." The two parties will work to install hydrogen chargers at SK gas stations in South Korea, and Hyundai will supply FCEVs to SK in large numbers.
- Saudi Arabia proposes green hydrogen pipeline to Europe. Saudi Arabia explicitly positions itself as an exporter of renewable energy and intends to leverage its significant potential for green hydrogen.
- Chile sets in motion plans for international hydrogen supply chain. Chile inked an agreement with Singapore and the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands to collaborate on developing an international supply chain for low-carbon hydrogen.
2021 is so far proving to be an eventful year for the hydrogen economy, with little indication that the momentum will simmer down anytime soon. It is no surprise that the bulk of the major announcements revolves around hydrogen generation, as there is no hydrogen economy without the production of low-carbon hydrogen, but it is also interesting to note that activity is picking up in hydrogen storage and transport, with new industrial-scale projects and governments linking up to create the future international supply chain for hydrogen.