Hydrogen's clean energy opportunities
Hydrogen has the opportunity to become a critical part of a more sustainable and secure energy future, according to The Future of Hydrogen , a report produced at the request of the government of Japan under its G20 presidency, which analyses the current state of play for hydrogen and offers guidance on its future development.
- Hydrogen is today enjoying unprecedented momentum, driven by governments that both import and export energy, as well as the renewables industry, electricity and gas utilities, automakers, oil and gas companies, major technology firms and big cities, said Dr Birol, the IEA's Executive Director.
- The world should not miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future.
Hydrogen can help to tackle various critical energy challenges, including helping to store the variable output from renewables like solar PV and wind to better match demand. It offers ways to decarbonise a range of sectors – including long-haul transport, chemicals, and iron and steel – where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce emissions. It can also help to improve air quality and strengthen energy security.
The Future of Hydrogen was launched last week in Japan by Dr Birol alongside Mr Hiroshige Seko, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, on the occasion of the meeting of G20 energy and environment ministers in Karuizawa, Japan.
More from the G20
The IEA delivered two other key contributions this year at the request of the Japanese Presidency of the G20.
Technology Innovation to Accelerate Energy Transitions sets around 100 "Innovation Gaps" and identifies key innovation needs in each energy technology area that require additional efforts, including through global collaboration.
Securing Investments in Low-Carbon Power Generation Sources sheds light on key priority actions to accelerate energy transitions in the context of G20, providing guidance to policy makers how to accelerate the decarbonisation of the power sector.
IEA and African Union hold first ministerial meeting
The IEA co-hosted a joint ministerial summit with the African Union Commission last week, titled "The Future of Africa’s Energy," which brought together high-level representatives from government and industry to discuss the development of Africa’s energy sector.
- This historic meeting is a milestone for the IEA’s cooperation in Africa, a continent that is of critical importance in the global energy arena, said Dr Birol.
- I’m honoured to have been able to participate in such rich and fruitful discussions with major energy stakeholders from across the continent. African Union Commissioner Dr Amani Abou-Zeid has been a good friend and strong supporter of the IEA, and we are grateful to her and her team for working with us to deliver such a productive event.
The IEA also announced that Dr Kandeh Yumkella, a former United Nations Under-Secretary-General, will become an advisor on Africa and energy access issues. Dr Yumkella previously served as Chair of UN-Energy, which promotes inter-agency collaboration on energy at the United Nations, between 2008 and 2015 and was the founding CEO of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative. He has brought a renewed and vital focus to global energy issues, maintaining a strong commitment to championing energy access.
Another record year for global gas demand
Last year, demand for natural gas grew at its fastest annual pace since 2010, according to our latest annual market report, Gas 2019. Gas accounted for almost half the increase in primary energy consumption worldwide.
- Natural gas helped to reduce air pollution and limit the rise in energy-related CO2 emissions by displacing coal and oil in power generation, heating and industrial uses, said Dr Birol.
- Natural gas can contribute to a cleaner global energy system. But it faces its own challenges, including remaining price competitive in emerging markets and reducing methane emissions along the natural gas supply chain.
Fossil fuel consumption subsidies bounced back strongly in 2018
Higher average oil prices in 2018 pushed up the value of global fossil fuel consumption subsidies back up toward levels last seen in 2014, underscoring the incomplete nature of the pricing reforms undertaken in recent years.
The new data for 2018, show a one-third increase in the estimated value of these subsidies, to more than $400 billion. The estimates for oil, gas and fossil-fuelled electricity have all increased significantly, reflecting the higher price for fuels. The continued prevalence of these subsidies – more than double the estimated subsidies to renewables – greatly complicates the task of achieving an early peak in global emissions.
Remarkable progress on emissions in the United Kingdom
We released our latest in-depth review of the United Kingdom’s energy policies on Thursday, welcoming reforms that aim to promote decarbonisation and innovation in clean energy technologies. The review specifically highlights the UK government’s track record in climate action, both at home and globally.
In 2017, energy-related CO2 emissions in the United Kingdom reached the lowest levels since 1888. The rapid reduction was achieved in part through significant renewable investment following the United Kingdom’s Electricity Market Reform (EMR). By 2030, the United Kingdom is forecast to see its share of variable renewables pass 50%. Amid this rapid change to a power system with a high share of wind and solar, market rules will need to accommodate flexibility, including interconnections, storage and demand response to maintain electricity security.
- We can be proud of dramatically decarbonising our energy system thanks to record levels of investment in renewables, while security of supply has never been in doubt. But we’re not complacent and we’re now on a path to become the first major economy to legislate for net-zero emissions to end our contribution to global warming entirely, Chris Skidmore, the UK Energy and Clean Growth Ministerr, said in a press release.
According to the IEA, the UK power sector still has significant potential for improvements. Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change will require the scaling up of clean energy investment in the transport and heat sectors, a major focus of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy.
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