Although there has been much talk recently about hydrogen vehicles – as they offer a real solution for carbon-free mobility – hydrogen has nonetheless been used in industry for decades, such as to fuel furnaces, in chemical processes and refining, and even to launch rockets into space.
One non-negligible fact, however, is that the hydrogen used in industry is fossil hydrogen (in more than 98% of cases). This means that it is made using a stream reforming process, which relies on fossil fuels and emits high amounts of CO2.
One of the challenges for industry, where decarbonization strategies are gradually being introduced, is to find alternatives to this method to reduce the carbon intensity of their production processes.
Which industries consume hydrogen? For which uses ?
Focus on the largest European consumers of industrial hydrogen
Europe – annual consumption – in millions of tons (Mt)
Are manufacturers going green?
The hydrogen currently consumed is carbon-based and therefore extremely polluting
In most cases, industry operators can replace fossil hydrogen with ecological hydrogen and we work with them on this, when we think it makes sense; using renewable hydrogen to refine oil would be ludicrous, for example.
Unfortunately, the regulatory incentives for a low-carbon Europe (i.e. free carbon quotas) are not necessarily conducive to accelerating the switch to clean hydrogen. The new carbon border adjustment mechanism should bring changes to this system, although the issue is divisive as it affects the industrial competitiveness of Member States. It’s a matter of climate emergency versus economic competitiveness, and we’re working for a timely response.
Sources : EY d’après AIE, The future of hydrogen, juin 2019 • http://www.afhypac.org • https://www.ifpenergiesnouvelles.fr