RMI: Hydrogen Will be Ready by 2030
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RMI: Hydrogen Will be Ready by 2030

Hydrogen Reality Check: Green Hydrogen Can Scale This Decade

Researchers at the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) claim hydrogen is on the cusp of overcoming its obstacles to adoption.

The group recently published what it’s calling a “reality check” on the state of hydrogen as a fuel, and claim that a number of major players in the field are pushing advances that will allow hydrogen to play a major role in global emissions reductions by 2030.

“No one could have anticipated the rate at which green hydrogen has established itself as a necessary part of our clean energy toolbox,” reads the post, co-authored by Tessa WeissCato Koole, and Nick Pesta. “This fuel and feedstock, produced using renewable energy, will be critical to decarbonizing large swaths of industry. Year after year, organizations have continually increased their projections of how much global electrolysis capacity will be online to produce hydrogen from electricity in 2030. Projections made this year are orders of magnitude greater than those from prior years.”

RMI Hydrogen Production Capacity Graph

Exhibit 1: Historic estimations of electrolysis capacity in 2030. Sources: Hydrogen Council, DNV Hydrogen Forecast to 2050; DNV Energy Transition Outlook 2020 and 2021; ETC, Making the Hydrogen Economy Possible

The report goes on to suggest that the uses for green hydrogen go far beyond e-mobility, and points to manufacturing and industrial applications, as well. Brad Davey, Executive Vice President of the global steel giant ArcelorMital, recently said that the company “foresee[s] a lot of demand for green steel — it is needed and it is wanted,” highlighting the automotive industry as an initial driver of demand. ArcelorMittal plans to produce 1.6 million metric tomes of green steel by 2025.

“We already see demand for our green steel product growing faster than we can build out our commercial assets,” Henrik Henriksson, CEO of H2 Green Steel, a rapidly growing new player in the steel industry that’s backed by a number of major international banks.

But RMI isn’t just claiming that hydrogen will play a major role in the next few years — they’re also saying the industry is ready to male a shift to big H now.

Exhibit 2: Manufacturing capacity can meet the needs of an early market. Source: BNEF 2H 2022 Hydrogen Market Outlook.

“Notably,” continues the report, “existing infrastructure can help grow the market. 70 percent of existing natural gas pipelines in Italy are suitable for pure hydrogen, the US Gulf Coast region hosts 2,600 kilometers of existing hydrogen pipelines, and Europe is undertaking a major pipeline retrofit project to equip its infrastructure to carry pure hydrogen. As a bonus, pipelines can also act as storage reserves to ensure that hydrogen is available around the clock.”

We’re always a bit suspicious of hydrogen claims that seem to present “just so” solutions that maintain value in the oil companies’ expansive infrastructure — but RMI is historically reputable, so we’ll be keeping an eye out for real progress here. In the meantime, we really enjoyed driving the hydrogen powered Toyota Mirai (shown, at top) at the Electrify Expo Long Beach, and the combination of electric torque and gasoline-quick refueling is definitely appealing.


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