The rise of the hydrogen economy

Green hydrogen could play a critical role in decarbonising the global economy. But there are challenges to overcome before it reaches its full potential.

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Hydrogen: frequently asked questions

Why is hydrogen so important?

It’s a super-versatile energy carrier with exceptional energy density (MJ/kg). It can be a fuel to supplement or displace others in transportation, heavy industry and many other applications. Around 70 million metric tonnes are produced worldwide, primarily for the chemicals market.

How is hydrogen produced?

The vast majority (99.6%) currently comes from hydrocarbons. Around 71% is grey hydrogen, produced via the reforming of natural gas to produce CO2 and hydrogen. Most of the rest is brown hydrogen, from coal via gasification. 

A small portion is blue hydrogen, a lower-carbon alternative that pairs natural gas reforming with carbon capture and storage (CCS). But CCS isn’t yet widely commercial.

What’s green hydrogen?

Green hydrogen is produced from water by renewables-powered electrolysis. Its green credentials will make it critical for difficult-to-decarbonise industries like steel – but in 2020 it only constitutes 0.1% of global hydrogen production. The economics are a challenge. Read Future energy – green hydrogen to find out more. 

Will green hydrogen overtake other forms of production?

The pipeline of new projects is growing fast. We're seeing larger integrated energy, industrial and financial players advancing innovative new projects, with the tailwind of net-zero carbon policy at their back.

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  • 28%

    growth in global hydrogen demand over the last decade

  • 2450%

    growth from the mobility sector – but it's still a tiny portion of demand

  • 40%

    of demand comes from China and the US

  • 99.6%

    of 2020 demand is met by hydrocarbons


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