Australia, U.K. and U.S. lead in low-carbon hydrogen projects

Chief Europe Correspondent
Source: Wood Mackenzie • Low-carbon includes primarily hydrogen produced from renewable electricity and natural gas power with carbon capture equipment installed.

Global investments in low-carbon hydrogen supply are ramping up, with the bulk of new projects focusing on renewable hydrogen production.

That’s according to a recent analysis from consultancy Wood Mackenzie, which found that 95% of the projects announced in the first quarter of this year fell in that category.

Renewable hydrogen, also known as green hydrogen, is produced through electrolysis from water using renewable electricity. Wood Mackenzie’s definition of low-carbon hydrogen also includes two other types: blue hydrogen, produced by splitting natural gas into hydrogen and CO2 and fitted with carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen produced with biomass through a process called gasification.

Most hydrogen produced today is made from fossil fuels without any capture equipment installed, so it’s not low carbon, according to the International Energy Agency.

The chart above outlines countries’ share of potential low-carbon hydrogen supply based on projects announced over the last seven years. The countries dominant in hydrogen production are also likely to lead in exporting the technology.

Seventy-five new low-carbon hydrogen projects were announced in the first three months of 2022, totaling 11.1 million tons per year of new capacity. The United States dominated this last quarter’s project announcements at 51%, with Spain at 20%, Paraguay at 11% and Egypt at 8%.

These 2022 announcements boosted global operational and expected projects for low-carbon hydrogen by 20% to 64 million tons per year, out of which almost two-thirds are in the six leading countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and the Netherlands.

Less than one million tons per year of hydrogen that have been produced in 2022 is low carbon, according to Wood Mackenzie. That means reaching the 64-million-ton threshold above is contingent on the announced projects becoming operational.