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Hydrogen takes center stage at COP28, but there’s an affordability challenge

More than 30 countries signed the Hydrogen Declaration of intent, aiming to mutually recognize their hydrogen certification schemes

Hydrogen takes center stage at COP28, but there’s an affordability challenge
[Source photo: Pankaj Kirdatt/Fast Company Middle East]

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COP28 has put the spotlight on hydrogen as a key player in the race to combat climate change. 

At the climate change summit, a series of ambitious announcements unfolded, focusing on bolstering the production and trade of this low-carbon fuel, marking a significant stride towards a more sustainable and greener future.

Thirty-nine countries, constituting approximately 80% of the forthcoming worldwide hydrogen market, have endorsed a declaration of intent. This agreement commits states to support a universal certification standard for hydrogen and acknowledge established certification programs.

Additionally, these countries have signed a public-private action statement centered on hydrogen. This joint effort aims to expedite approvals for hydrogen initiatives and stimulate increased demand for this valuable commodity.

Hydrogen is a vital future fuel that holds promise for hard-to-decarbonize sectors like steel and shipping. Its efficient energy storage complements intermittent renewables like wind and solar.

Green hydrogen’s cost surpasses natural gas due to limited production and supply, largely from a scarcity of electrolyzers—devices splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The Minister of Energy and Infrastructure for the UAE, Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, spoke on the persistent challenge surrounding the cost of hydrogen during a high-level roundtable discussion at COP28.

“If it is not affordable, then we are not meeting the strategy,” he said. “In the UAE, we have a dedicated strategy on hydrogen, primarily green hydrogen, and the aim is to provide it at the right price.”

Al Mazrouei continued: “We are actively working to reduce the cost of hydrogen, and carbon taxing will come, but it will add the burden to consumers, so we need to work on ensuring the price is right.”

At the ongoing climate summit, energy companies also unveiled multiple hydrogen agreements. Abu Dhabi’s clean energy firm, Masdar, and Spain’s Iberdrola have initiated a $16.25 billion collaboration. 

This partnership aims to assess the potential for offshore wind and green hydrogen projects across key markets such as Germany, the UK, and the US.

The firms also intend to explore additional investments in the UK’s 1,400-megawatt East Anglia 3 offshore wind venture, Masdar revealed on Tuesday. The negotiations, ongoing for the past few months, are anticipated to conclude by the first quarter of 2024, potentially resulting in Masdar’s stake in the wind farm rising to 49%.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President, Masdar chairman, and UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration: “At Cop28, we know that the world must triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 to keep 1.5°C within reach. Robust partnerships such as the one between Masdar and Iberdrola today will propel us towards this goal.”

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