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    Going for net-zero by 2050 – wishful thinking or realistic goal?

    March 20, 2023 - Biofuels Digest


      By The Topsoe team

      Special to The Digest

      Some would say the goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 is a mega-scale challenge requiring mega-scale solutions. Not to mention a healthy dose of optimism. But this is where ultra-low carbon intensity blue hydrogen comes in and gives hope for transforming even the hardest-to-abate sectors.

      To hit the 2050 targets of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to well below 2-degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5-degrees Celsius, hydrogen uptake needs to triple to meet 15% of global energy demand expected by then. (1)

      But achieving ambitious climate goals is especially daunting for industries difficult to electrify, like long shipping transport, heavy cement, steel, plastics, and fertilizers. Currently, these industries are responsible for 25% of the total global carbon emissions every year, so successfully decreasing emissions in these sectors would have an immediate and positive effect on the global carbon tally. (6)

      But is there a market for blue hydrogen and decarbonizing? Certainly. Indeed, the latest predictions talk about a great need for blue hydrogen production.

      “According to Hydrogen Councils thorough projections, it is expected that around 1/3 of the worlds H2 demand in 2050 will be blue H2, while the remaining 2/3 will be classified as green or renewable H2.

      But what is also interesting from this forecast, is that within the next 10-15 years, most of the growth within H2 production is expected to be of a blue source. The blue portion of the H2 production will be even greater than the grey or green production, and that is due to fact that the blue H2 technology is more mature than green H2 technology and blue H2 technology is ready at scale.” Source:

      Many roads lead to decarbonization

      There are many paths to decarbonization, and all must be considered. Depending on the resources used to generate electricity, direct electrification can potentially reduce carbon emissions from light-transportation and building, as well as some industrial sectors.

      Reducing energy consumption and conserving energy for efficient use is another obvious option. At present, approximately 30% of all available energy is wasted, and not only is it expensive to use resources inefficiently, it’s also irresponsible. Therefore, we need to look at energy efficiency as a powerful tool to meet international climate obligations – in addition to helping us handle energy price fluctuations more effectively.

      The European Commission is currently proposing an update of the Renewable Energy Directive, the likes of which aims to have 40% of all energy consumed by 2030 come from renewable sources. A sub-target stipulates a 13% reduction in carbon intensity (CI) of fuel. Other sub-targets are due for hydrogen and synthetic fuels: in transport, 2.6% for renewable fuels of non-bio-origin, and in industrial processes, a 50% renewable share in hydrogen consumption. (2)

      In the US, the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) champions decarbonization across the electricity, transportation, and industrial sectors, among others. On top of this, EERE is on a mission to accelerate the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of technologies and solutions to equitably transition America to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050. (3) And in August 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $40 million in funding to advance the development and deployment of clean hydrogen technologies.

      DOE is laser focused on building a future with cleaner manufacturing, transportation, and electricity — all of which can be achieved with clean hydrogen technology,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “These investments will advance cutting-edge technologies and empower state, territory, and tribal leaders to make the best-informed decisions about improving and decarbonizing the electric power grid.” (4)

      Hydrogen’s role moving forward

      The technology is ready to decarbonize a lot of sectors now. Natural gas resources can be transformed into ultra-low carbon intensity (CI) blue hydrogen with many advantages, both financially and environmentally. The smart integration of carbon capture technology makes it possible to produce the ultra-low CI hydrogen at mega-scale – and at a lower levelized cost.

      Hydrogen can be stored and transported at high energy density in liquid or gaseous form. It can also be combusted or used in fuel cells which is both a smart and necessary way to satisfy the growing need for non-fossil chemical fuels.

      And so, let’s look at some of the many applications of blue hydrogen. A versatile energy carrier with potential to address GHG emissions as a fuel substitute in sectors currently responsible for more than 65% of global emissions. (5)

      Industries like marine, aviation, transport, and even space are looking at replacing fossil fuels with blue or green hydrogen alternatives. Meaning a mobile world supplied by ammonia, methanol, sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel is not far away.

      The blending of hydrogen into existing natural gas networks can also help reduce emissions. In the future heating could include direct use of hydrogen in boilers or fuel cells, depending on the infrastructure in question and whatever safety measures need to be applied.

      And finally, let us not forget how high-density liquid ammonia derived from blue hydrogen can act as a carbon-free energy carrier. The ammonia can be stored and transported in its liquid state, which contains approximately 48% more hydrogen by volume than hydrogen alone. This makes liquified blue ammonia a safe, cheap and less energy-intensive means of long-distance transport compared to liquified hydrogen.

      The technology is here. Ready to transform for the better.

      The great news is that the needed transforming technologies are already here. Ready to perform and change businesses, their credibility, and the climate, all for the better.

      Blue hydrogen is produced by combining traditional production methods with clean technology innovations: i.e., carbon capture technology can now be added to remove CO2 from the hydrogen production process. There are several carbon capture technologies available, meaning CO2 can be removed from the flue gas side, process side and/or hydrogen PSA off-gas side, with the best option mostly depending on the reforming process.

      Ultimately, the best technology depends on achieving a certain level of CO2 emission reductions as cost-effectively as possible. Here are two proven technologies to consider:

      SynCOR™ – the workhorse of the future

      • SynCOR™ is a tried and tested next-generation technology that far exceeds anything else in its category. It’s especially suited for production at very large capacities and with high carbon capture requirements.
      • Reap the rewards of economies of scale: among all ultra-low CI technologies, SynCOR™ has the lowest levelized cost due to lower CAPEX and OPEX.
      • SynCORTM also produces lower steam throughput which significantly reduces the size of equipment and piping needed, in addition to enabling single-line capacities up to 720 mmscfd (800,000 Nm3/hr) — 3 to 5 times larger than any alternatives.

      eREACT™ the electric evolution of the world’s most common hydrogen-production method

      Steam methane reforming (SMR) is the traditional way to convert natural gas to syngas. But newer technologies are ready. Powered by electricity, eREACT™ Hydrogen is a technology that, especially as renewable energy scales up and becomes cheaper, will certainly play a huge role in hydrogen production.

      It can reduce the size of a traditional SMR from a 30-meter-long, six-story building to a unit 100 times smaller. Put that together with its outstanding energy efficiency, zero flue gas emissions, and low CO2 emissions, and this technology also becomes extremely attractive from a commercial point of view.

      Be ready for regulations

      Wherever your operations are in the world, future proof your business by adopting the technology that can help reduce your carbon footprint significantly while ensuring you always meet targets.

      (1): source: DNV, Hydrogen Forecast to 2050.

      (2): Source:



      (5): The Kearny Energy Transition Report:


      The views expressed in content distributed by Newstex and its re-distributors (collectively, "Newstex Authoritative Content") are solely those of the respective author(s) and not necessarily the views of Newstex et al. It is provided as general information only on an "AS IS" basis, without warranties and conferring no rights, which should not be relied upon as professional advice. Newstex et al. make no claims, promises or guarantees regarding its accuracy or completeness, nor as to the quality of the opinions and commentary contained therein.


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