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Speed and Scale for Disruptive Climate Technologies

Case for a Global Green Hydrogen Alliance

Arunabha Ghosh and Sanjana Chhabra
September 2021 | Industrial Sustainability & Competitiveness

Suggested citation: Ghosh, Arunabha, and Sanjana Chhabra. 2021. Speed and Scale for Disruptive Climate Technologies: Case for a Global Green Hydrogen Alliance. A GCF-CEEW Report. Stockholm: Global Challenges Foundation.

Overview

This study gives an overview of the current status of green hydrogen globally and how it can be a game changer for heavy industries, such as steel, ammonia and petrochemicals, and transport. It proposes a Global Green Hydrogen Alliance to meet vital international clean energy needs. The study suggests that the alliance can be designed as a multi-country, multi-institutional network to assess, develop and design affordable green hydrogen technologies.

While many countries have announced national and regional hydrogen programmes, green hydrogen technology is still far from commercialisation at scale. Three trends — expected shifts in sectoral uses, geographical spread to emerging economies, and the need for low-carbon production — will serve as the foundations of a new wave of hydrogen production and consumption in the coming decades.

Drivers of green hydrogen

Drivers of green hydrogen
Source: CEEW Research and Analysis

Key Highlights

  • At least 32 countries and the European Union have announced or are developing national-level policies and strategies for hydrogen. At least 24 countries and regions have targets and pilots for green hydrogen.
  • There are more than a dozen bilateral partnerships and at least 10 multi-country or multi-firm platforms focused on hydrogen. But they seldom involve developing countries, are not oriented towards joint technology development, and do not focus on deploying technologies in countries that will have the greatest demand for cleaner fuels for industrial development.
  • There is a gap between the geographical distribution of green hydrogen potential and the primary destination of investment and projects. The bulk of hydrogen programmes are concentrated in developed countries. Of the 33 countries and regions analysed, only seven are in Asia, two of which are developed economies and three are major oil and gas producers.

Key Recommendations

  • Establish a Global Green Hydrogen Alliance as a multi-country, multi-institutional network to assess, develop and design affordable green hydrogen technologies that can be deployed at scale, in both advanced and developing countries.
  • The alliance will follow a six step approach:
    • Increase transparency and help connect technology developers and firms across borders through a global inventory of hydrogen programmes and activities, thereby creating conditions for collaboration.
    • Carry out periodic technology assessments (biennially) to help members remain up-to-date about what gaps remain and about new opportunities for joint research.
    • Establish bilateral/plurilateral partnerships, with the rule being that any initiative would need sponsors from at least two countries to promote collaboration and reduce costs.
    • Pool funds for enhanced joint R&D, with members allowed to contribute in cash or offer their human resources, laboratories and industry facilities in kind.
    • Formulate rules of intellectual property ownership and licensing, wherein participating institutions retain their original IP while any new technology developed by a work programme consortium is jointly owned.
    • Set standards and conduct inspections for safe storage and transportation via technical supervisory committees, which have the mandate to set standards and protocols, build capacity in developing countries, and undertake periodic inspections.
  • Follow a risk-risk approach. The Green Hydrogen Alliance must consider failures in technological development or in end-use applications, second-order risks associated with the adverse impacts of faulty storage or transportation of green hydrogen, and tertiary risks involving trade or intellectual property disputes. The Global Green Hydrogen Alliance can also correct for government failures and be tactically and operationally more efficient.
There are more than a dozen bilateral partnerships and at least 10 multi-country or multi-firm platforms focused on hydrogen. But they seldom involve developing countries, are not oriented towards joint technology development, and do not focus on deploying technologies in countries that will have the greatest demand for cleaner fuels for industrial development.

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