Global pipeline for green hydrogen projects growing: Rystad Energy

The global pipeline for green hydrogen projects is growing fast, with a current target of 206 gigawatts (GW) in installed electrolyzer capacity by 2040. A Rystad Energy analysis reveals that the locations of the planned projects are overwhelmingly in areas where water is in short supply.

Research and development is under way to add and improve the built-in desalination capability of hydrogen projects, but many desalination installations will need to be external – and for the hydrogen to be “green”, they must be fed by additional clean, renewable power.

The current pipeline of projects aims to produce about 30 million tonnes of hydrogen per year by 2040, with an annual requirement of 620 million cubic meters of purified water.

The top five regions by planned green hydrogen capacity are currently Australia, Western Europe, Central Asia, West Africa and the Middle East. Except for Western Europe, all these regions have medium or higher water-stress levels.

There are also several hydrogen electrolyzer projects in countries with high levels of water stress outside of these five regions – Spain, Chile, Qatar, and Oman, for instance, are among the countries with the highest water stress and currently have almost 50 projects planned, with more expected to come.

Demand for desalination could grow fivefold to 526 million cubic meters by 2040 if all the hydrogen projects within regions with water stress levels above medium are realized. The United Nations (UN) expects freshwater demand to increase globally by 60% by 2025 − for agriculture alone. Therefore, regions with water stress levels above medium will most likely need to develop this additional desalination capacity to support green hydrogen facilities. While there are only a few projects in regions of low water stress, many of these are located near shore and/or taking offshore wind as feedstock (for instance in Western Europe and Brazil). If all these projects add seawater desalination, total desalinated water demand for green hydrogen would hit 620 million cubic meters by 2040.

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