Seven companies from around the world have joined forces to launch the Green Hydrogen Catapult initiative, a coalition that aims to accelerate the scale and production of green hydrogen 50-fold, with a view to deploying 25GW of renewable H2 production by the end of 2026 and halving the current cost of the clean gas to under $2 per kilogram.

“Recent analysis [by the Hydrogen Council] suggests a $2-per-kg price represents a potential tipping point that will make green hydrogen and its derivative fuels the energy source of choice across multiple sectors — including steel and fertilizer production, power generation, and long-range shipping—where ample near-term demand exists in Europe and elsewhere,” said the members in a statement.

Paddy Padmanathan, chief executive of Saudi Arabia-based renewables developer ACWA Power, one of the Green Hydrogen Catapult founding companies, adds: “We believe the collective ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the private-sector can deliver green hydrogen at less than $2 per kilogram within four years.

“From an industry perspective, we see no technical barriers to achieving this, so it’s time to get on with the virtuous cycle of cost reduction through scale up.”

The seven “green hydrogen industry leaders” are Spanish utility giant Iberdrola; the world’s leading offshore wind developer, Orsted; ACWA Power; Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Envision; Australian developer CWP Renewables, which is co-developing the 26GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub solar/green-hydrogen project in Western Australia; Italian gas infrastructure company Snam; and Norway-based fertiliser and chemicals giant Yara International. The non-profit sustainability organisation Rocky Mountain Institute, based in Colorado, will facilitate the initiative alongside the seven founding partners.

“In establishing the new Initiative, the founding partners of the Green Hydrogen Catapult are collaborating to accelerate the necessary technology, component manufacturing and construction advancements, market development and flow of investment,” the statement said. “The Catapult target will require investment of roughly $110bn and deliver more than 120,000 jobs, thus in parallel facilitating recovery from Covid-19.

“Companies in this initiative will work toward the target by developing project capacity, supporting the design of specific tools to solve early market challenges, and sponsoring targeted collaboration to accelerate access to clean air, creation of green jobs, supply chain resilience, and economic growth using green hydrogen.”

Businesses, investors, customers and local and regional governments are being invited to join the initiative.

Green, blue and grey hydrogen

More than 95% of the hydrogen produced today is derived from unabated fossil fuels (natural gas or coal), resulting in nine to 12 tonnes of CO2 emissions for every tonne of H2. This is known as grey hydrogen.

However, 'green hydrogen' can be produced with zero emissions by using renewable electricity to split water molecules into H2 and oxygen inside a machine called an electrolyser; a process known as electrolysis.

Or the CO2 emissions from natural-gas-based H2 production can be captured and stored, resulting in what is known as blue hydrogen. Strictly speaking, this would be classed as low-carbon hydrogen as not all the CO2 from the production process can be captured.