Green hydrogen (H2) – generated by renewables-power systems – could be cost competitive with blue H2 – produced from natural gas – by 2030, according to new research from IHS Markit, moving forward the current timeline for commercialisaiton of the clean-energy version of the fuel seen as a keystone in global decarbonsisation.

Earlier this year, a study by the Hydrogen Council and consultant McKinsey, forecast that green H2 was set to become cost-competitive with high-emission grey hydrogen – made from unabated fossil fuels – by the end of the decade.

But IHS Markit production costs cratering for green H2, which have dropped 50% since 2015, staying on trend through to 2025 as scale is built and manufacturing streamlined.

“Costs for producing green H2 have fallen 50% since 2015 and could be reduced by an additional 30% by 2025 due to the benefits of growing sector scale and more standardised manufacturing, among other factors,” said IHS Markit senior advisor Simon Blakey.

“Economies of scale [will be] a way of reducing costs, developing dedicated renewables in order to get the load factor on the electrolyser [the technology in the H2 generating process that turns power into the gaseous fuel] up and, of course, continued expectations of falling costs for renewables.

“We’re all pretty clear that the trends are in that direction in all three of those areas.”

Investment in so-called power-to-x projects – of which hydrogen makes up the majority – is growing “rapidly”, noted IHS Markit, which is forecasting capital spending to grow from around $30m in 2019 to more than $700m in 2023.

The average size for power-to-x projects timelined for 2023 start-up is 100MW – ten times the capacity of the largest project in operation today, Blakey noted.

Generation of hydrogen fuel by ‘splitting’ water into H2 and oxygen using renewables is a rapidly advancing from pilot to commercial-scale operation in many parts of the world. But production that uses natural gas as a feedstock, via a process known as methane reforming, currently supplies H2 to the chemical and refining plants that make up the bulk of current demand globally.

“There is growing potential for H2 to be used in transport, heating, industry and power generation,” said Shankari Srinivasan, vice president of IHS Markit’s Global & Renewable Gas unit. “Both green hydrogen and so-called blue hydrogen are likely to play a role in the energy future as demand expands.

“Blue and green hydrogen are extremely complementary. If they are developed in parallel, hydrogen will be able to make a big contribution to future energy demand, especially with the ambitious goals on carbon.”

Recharge recently held a digital roundtable on the evolving H2 market, a full video of which can viewed for free here.