Drivers and Barriers for Green Hydrogen

In an article for Recharge, Navigant looks at the potential role of hydrogen in the transformation of the energy system

The concept of the hydrogen economy is currently enjoying a revival from the 1970s and is quickly becoming a buzzword in both the regulatory and corporate vocabulary. While governments are looking at low carbon hydrogen as a potential enabler for low carbon energy systems, utilities, the industrial sector, and — to some extent — the transport sector are interested in the value of this versatile gas.

In an article for Recharge, Jan Cihlar, senior consultant at Navigant, investigated the potential role of hydrogen in view of climate goals and the energy system transformation. While renewable electricity will continue to have a major role in decreasing EU greenhouse gas emissions, for some applications electricity is neither technically viable, nor the most cost-effective solution.  

“Hydrogen can be used in most cases where electricity cannot, making it a great candidate for the so-called sector coupling,” said Cihlar.

There are valuable synergies between the continuous expansion of renewable electricity sources and green hydrogen that could serve as a curtailment option, flexibility provider, or as seasonal energy storage. 

Yet there are currently multiple barriers that can slow down the uptake of hydrogen. For instance, the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) will encourage the use of battery EVs but might not do the same for fuel-cell EVs powered by hydrogen.

If, however, a level playing field between all forms of renewable energy could be ensured, Cihlar thinks green hydrogen could be “a game changer in the fight against climate change.”

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