A survey of 170 energy industry “decision-makers” — including those in oil & gas, power and renewables, and investment firms — has found that 81% are investing in hydrogen, planning to enter the market, or considering doing so.

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According to US/UK law firm Womble Bond Dickinson’s 2022 Energy Transition Outlook Survey Report, 31% of respondents said they were already actively operating, investing in or researching blue or green H2, 29% were considering entering the market in the next one to five years, with 21% planning to move into the sector in the coming year. Only 19% said they were neither active nor currently considering hydrogen investments.

A total of 67% of respondents said that hydrogen represented the most appealing growth opportunities in the energy space, slightly behind battery storage (69%), but ahead of energy efficiency (58%) and electrification (56%).

Correspondents were asked to consider which of the following three statements best summarised their position on hydrogen: nearly 30% selected “green hydrogen is worth the wait”; about half chose “blue hydrogen is simply a bridge to a long-term shift to green hydrogen”, and a fifth agreed with “blue hydrogen technology is here to stay”.

The survey also found that contributors thought the biggest challenges for the hydrogen market were the supply and storage of H2, the absence of infrastructure and public safety concerns.

Overall, they were less worried about the complexity of distributing hydrogen or cost curve uncertainty, indicating that they thought that existing fossil gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure provided a “technical basis for hydrogen distribution” and that they were confident that green and/or blue H2 would soon be cost-competitive, the report explains.

However, drilling down further into the statistics, the Transatlantic law firm found that while only 41% of energy company executives felt that hydrogen distribution was too complex, 74% of investors did. Similarly, 56% of investors were worried about cost-curve uncertainties, compared to only 21% of energy executives.

“Why the disparity?” the report asks. “It may be that investors’ lack of enthusiasm for this emerging technology is due at least in part to the dearth of pure play companies (of size) and/or investment mechanisms exclusively focused on the resource. Companies actively pursuing hydrogen development are often oil majors or other diversified companies. Solar and onshore wind, on the other hand, are replete with pure-play investments and tightly focused funds.”

The online survey questioned 170 respondents from 170 companies, including C-suite executives (32%), business or operations managers (7%) and in-house legal counsel (29%) — a combined group referred to as “energy executives” in the report, with 29% classified as “investors”.

The majority of respondents were based in the US (84%), with the remaining contributors coming from Canada (6%), the UK (4%), Saudi Arabia (3%), France (2%) and Belgium (1%).