Hydrogen’s role in energy security and decarbonization

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Marco Alverà
Chief Executive Officer, Snam

Meg Gentle
Executive Director, Highly Innovative Fuels USA

Tim Holt
Member of the Executive Board, Siemens Energy AG; Member of the Executive Board and Labor Director, Siemens Energy Management GmbH

David Livingston
Senior Advisor to US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, US Department of State

Roger Martella
Chief Sustainability Officer, GE

Gareth Wynn
Chief Communications Officer, TAQA


Randolph Bell
Senior Director, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council

RANDOLPH BELL: Thank you so much for joining us. Where are you in the world right now?

ROGER MARTELLA: I’m in Washington, D.C. I’m actually at Howard University Law School this morning, which is the United States’ oldest historically black college and university, where I have about 20 students coming in in 20 minutes for a class on this very topic, so apologize; I’ve committed to them to be on time. So thank you for accommodating me here and for a couple minutes at the beginning. I appreciate it.

RANDOLPH BELL: Fantastic. Well, thank you for joining us. Your students are welcome to watch virtually. You can stay on and sort of do double duty.

So first question to you: You know, this theme of today is really thinking through energy security on the one hand and our net-zero goals on the other and thinking about how we can solve those together and not see that as a choice we have to make one way or another. And so we’re asking the question in this session, how does hydrogen play into—help us solve both challenges at once, or does it? So I’d just love to hear your thoughts on that coming from GE.

ROGER MARTELLA: Thank you for framing it up that way, and I appreciated the transition leading into the discussion. I think you’ve said it exactly right. We want to do those two goals simultaneously. It’s a really important way to frame the conversation, I think throughout the entire conference, is goal number one is to decarbonize the energy sector and other sectors and, at the same time, though, just as is important, is we have to grow access to reliable, sustainable, affordable electricity. We want to do these two things simultaneously. We know that’s mutually achievable. And hydrogen is really uniquely positioned to be part of the success here because it does both of those things. It leads to decarbonization and it grows to—it leads to reliability, sustainability, and affordable electricity; it can help simultaneously decarbonize while providing strong power generation.

We think of hydrogen as a breakthrough technology, and it is, because it means it’s not really commercially feasible today. It’s something we’re investing in for around the corner, but it’s also unique around the breakthrough technologies because it is, I’d say, technologically proven. We can run our turbines today on hydrogen. A hundred turbines are run for more than 8 million hours on hydrogen. And as we talked about earlier today, whether it’s blue hydrogen, green hydrogen, the technology exists to create it. We need to focus on the commercial feasibility of it. I imagine that will be the discussion this morning, but it has this unique role to play, I think, to achieving both goals, as you indicated.

RANDOLPH BELL: Thanks so much. Now, what do you think are the risks to a hydrogen economy? What could make this stall like hydrogen has stalled a couple times previously?

ROGER MARTELLA: Well, I think the risks to any new technology, any new investment is always uncertainty. I think it’s that simple. As you said, other things have stalled. Other breakthrough technologies have stalled. Hydrogen has stalled from time to time. And uncertainty, I think, is always the biggest risk. So I think we have to work—and I love how diverse this panel is; I do hope I can come back and watch what everybody has to say. But it reinforces that if we’re going to be successful here, we have to work kind of collaboratively in partnership; no one company, no one entity can solve this alone. It’s great to have the government represented there. That’s key to this. And so we have to address the uncertainty. There’s uncertainty in the policies, there’s uncertainty in the costs, there’s uncertainties in the investments, there’s uncertainties in how to deploy the technology. We like this concept called hydrogen hubs, where you bring together all the players. You bring together people like GE who make the turbines, you bring together the people who have the pipelines, the infrastructure who generate the hydrogen, who can use it in industrial uses, you bring the government in to help with the demonstration projects, and you do this through collaboration, take a very holistic view, and that’s going to increase, I think, the likelihood of success long-term. That’s some of the themes I already heard this morning in the earlier presentation.

RANDOLPH BELL: Roger, thanks so much.

I want to go to Meg. Meg, you’re working at Highly Innovative Fuels, but you come from the natural gas sector before. How do you see your transition from natural gas to hydrogen in relationship to the question at hand, which is—you know, the conversation this morning was so much focused on natural gas and how do we get natural gas to Europe, how do we solve the market challenges we’re seeing now, but how do you see—is hydrogen the next step?

MEG GENTLE: First, Randy, thank you for having me here today. And I think there are a lot of lessons that we learned in developing very, very large-scale, large infrastructure, natural gas projects in the form of liquefied natural gas and also long-haul pipelines that can be applied to the hydrogen business because we have a lot of similarities. We’re going to need the long-haul pipelines and I think Marco’s probably the expert on that. We’re going to need very large plants to produce hydrogen, and in our case, we’re going to need to look to ready markets that can take the volume right away. And so one thing we did to bridge that challenge of the chicken and the egg, between bringing on massive hydrogen supply and having, you know, massive market development is to say, well, there’s an intermediate step that we can bridge hydrogen production and use it to make e-fuels. And so we’re going to take the hydrogen capture carbon, put them back together again, and make synthetic gasoline or carbon-neutral gasoline and methanol and eventually jet fuel, and we’re going to take about $50 billion of investment to make 150,000 barrels a day of e-gasoline. And that’s, you know, to the order and scale of what we did with LNG business, so everything that we learned about financing large infrastructure for LNG into the project finance market is going to be, you know, critical to bringing that kind of capital into the hydrogen business.

RANDOLPH BELL: Meg, thanks.

I want to come back to the demand question and where sort of best-use case of hydrogen is in round two, but I want to follow up with you on the projects that you’re doing in Texas and Chile and how you think about those two projects, which are very, very different locations and using different types of production technologies, or at least the source of the electricity is quite different. So could you just explain those two projects briefly and how you think about why—you know, why Chile and one—you know, very far offshore and then Texas where there’s just immediate demand?

MEG GENTLE: Sure. So as we think about making carbon-neutral fuels, the green hydrogen part is so important to make sure that we have carbon neutral, and so Chile was a natural place to start because there’s an abundance of wind power that’s available in the Magallanes region, so all the way in the south of Chile on the Straits of Magellan where the wind is blowing all of the time. And that’s a resource that really can’t be delivered as electricity to the Chilean market because it’s so far from population, but it’s there for us to use if we can convert it into a liquid, so we have maybe a 75 or 80 percent capacity factor on that wind and that’s the natural place to build, you know, what’s under construction today, the demonstration facility that says we’re going to use wind power, we’re going to generate very low-cost hydrogen, we’re going to capture CO2, we’re going to test direct-air carbon capture there, and we’re going to put that together into gasoline, and actually we’ll be producing gasoline later this year.

Texas is obviously very, very different. The power market is something that we can balance intermittency of wind in the Panhandle with the Texas ERCOT power grid to deliver very reliable baseload power, and the balancing, then, there is that there’s a very large industrial base of CO2 emissions on the Gulf Coast that gives a very low-cost industrial base CO2 as our, you know, phase one while we’re proving out carbon capture. So there’s kind of a balance there where you can see kind of the benefits of bringing together hydrogen and carbon into a carbon-neutral fuel in two very different places.

RANDOLPH BELL: That’s really, really fascinating. Meg, thank you.

I want to go to Gareth now and I just—first of all, a little bit of background on Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s hydrogen plans, because they’re quite ambitious and they’re evolving very quickly, and I’d love to just learn a little bit more, but also, then, again, in this framing, how do you see this as part of the energy security and climate challenge?

GARETH WYNN: So we heard from—in the session just now from Musabbeh about the UAE’s ambition and strategy to get to net zero by 2050, which is already a very big step for a country whose wealth has been based on hydrocarbons to say, actually, we’re going to do this energy transition in that kind of frame, first in the region to do it.

A big part of the energy transition, as you know, is going to be electrification, and a huge—there’ll be huge demand on renewable electricity as it comes online for electrifying things like transport and for other uses. But there are certain sectors of society, certain things where molecules are the only things that will do the trick. And so—and how you then help use the molecules to decarbonize things like steel production, how you can maybe use hydrogen as a vector for, you know, exporting cheap solar power. So I’ll give you two examples of how you turn potentially green hydrogen into a commercial opportunity. So we’re working in collaboration with Emirates Steel to help them to produce more green steel, and the idea is that we use the cheap solar power that we can produce here. We have—obviously as TAQA, we also produce desalinated water so we can bring water into the process, but as an energy utility, we’re also working with Emirates Steel on how to make their whole energy consumption more efficient, and the combination of those things—cheap solar, easy access to water, energy efficiency, and a higher value end product to take to market—gives us the potential to get into a space where green hydrogen becomes commercially viable, and that’s really a critical enabler of hydrogen becoming part of the solution here.

And then another project, which relates to the same story, is working with Abu Dhabi Ports where we’ve said that we’ll use a two-gigawatt solar PV plant to produce large-scale green ammonia, for two purposes: on the one hand, there’s an alternative for bunker fuel and there are ships that are now converted to be able to run on green hydrogen as a way of decarbonizing shipping, which is another major source of global emissions, as well as using green ammonia to export it, and this is where the UAE’s potentially positioning itself as a global hub for exporting green ammonia, both for using the chemicals industry for fertilizer or whatever, but also to be converted back into hydrogen in developed markets where there’s going to be a huge demand as this market begins to, you know, to develop further. So I think the UAE’s particularly well positioned with its natural resources to be at the heart of that, and hydrogen is going to be part of enabling the UAE to stay a global hub for energy as we get into this energy transition.

RANDOLPH BELL: Got it. Thank you.

Now, Gareth, both you and Meg talked about exports, and so, Tim, I’m going to put you on the spot. While you sit in the United States—Siemens Energy is a German company; you yourself are German—you are the representative of Germany on this panel. Germany is talking about importing hydrogen. Does that not still have the same type of risk that we’re seeing when you have to import fuels from any number of countries?

TIM HOLT: Certainly, but, on the other hand, it’s also diversification, right? Where do you get the green hydrogen from? And we talked about the role of the Middle East in providing green hydrogen. There’s also—and Meg talked about Chile; there’s, I think, equal activity in Colombia. I mean, all of Latin America is very resource-rich in renewable energy. And I always say, this is the next phase—you know, you go from LNG to exporting green hydrogen, so, I mean, you cannot export renewable energy from Latin America to Europe, so what do you do? You convert it into green hydrogen and transport it. So I think it’s also very similar to what we have seen in oil and gas. It’s diversification. But there’s certain countries in the world that are—have the right conditions at very low cost to produce the hydrogen, and then, you know, transport it into Europe. I think for a fact—and we also know this for Germany—Germany will never be able to produce enough green hydrogen for their own consumption, so you have to look at imports. And then if you look at imports, I think it’s all about diversification and also, of course, the cost factor, and I see different parts of the world are going to compete to say who’s going to be the green hydrogen exporter? And I think there’s an element of being the first one, and it’s good to see that race in different parts of the world happening.

RANDOLPH BELL: Got it. Thank you.

Now, we’ve talked about transporting hydrogen in different ways. Marco is the expert on that. Now, Marco, you run the world’s largest pipeline company. Do you see—is your future in piping hydrogen from point A to point B?

MARCO ALVERÀ: Yes. I think it’s basically all of the above. We’ve heard how you can export hydrogen in the form of steel even, or even data bits. You have a data center run on hydrogen, you’re kind of exporting data. And so the cheapest way to move any gas is via pipe. It’s the same with natural gas and it will be the same with hydrogen. So the different uses of hydrogen, whether it goes into a synthetic fuel like diesel, whether it goes into ammonia, whether it goes into methanol, there will be different uses. Where it has to replace coal and natural gas for baseload energy in industry in the hard-to-abate sectors it will be impossible to beat the cost-competitiveness of pipelines. And the great news, as we heard in the previous panels, is that you can use a lot of the existing infrastructure. As a company, we’ve transported hydrogen. We’ve tested our network; 99 percent of our existing network is capable of transporting 100 percent hydrogen. And so the networks of the future will be pipes for methane, whether it’s fossil methane or synthetic methane, because you can also create synthetic methane from hydrogen; you just add CO2 and H2 and you create synthetic CH4. We will have a pipeline for hydrogen, we will have a pipeline for CO2 to take away the CO2 from the hard-to-abate sectors, and either use that CO2 and recombine it with hydrogen if we need to create that synthetic molecule, and then we’ll have a pure hydrogen network for 100 percent hydrogen. The blending of the two, methane and hydrogen, is a good way to create the market, to create immediate demand, like we did for biofuels in Europe so the blending is not a path to get to 100 percent; there will be, ultimately, three types of pipelines.

RANDOLPH BELL: Marco, thank you.

And David, I’m going to come to you in a second but I want—and Roger has to sign off soon, so I want to go back to Roger for one final question to him, which is, if you’re looking at the range of options for utilization of hydrogen, anything from fertilizer to the power sector to heavy transport, heating, hard-to-abate sectors that require high-temperature process heat, where do you think hydrogen will have the most benefit and be deployed the fastest?

ROGER MARTELLA: Well, thank you for the accommodation. I do want to apologize to my fellow panelists for not being there with you in person and for the opportunity to have the chance to speak a little early in the panel, so thank you. I’m going to stay on and continue to listen. And I think the thinking on that is, our attitude is all hydrogen is good hydrogen at this point, and what we’re hearing about infrastructure is really key. Power generation seems to be the obvious go-to place because it makes sense; we can run our turbines on hydrogen today, we can create power from them, and that’s an immediate decarbonization benefit. So we should continue to develop that and use that as an option.

The other thing we think, though, is there may ultimately be higher and better uses for hydrogen. We have a number of pathways to decarbonizing the energy sector and we can take a diversity of pathways to decarbonizing energy. Hydrogen’s a key part of that. Some of the other sectors—hydrogen plays a more critical role, a more indispensable role. Maybe the technology’s not there as often or as right away and we have to figure out more how we can use it in some of these other applications. So I think, again, our focus is, we should continue to build out this infrastructure, create the hydrogen; the power sector can certainly absorb it along with other decarbonization strategies like carbon capture sequestration, renewables, small modular reactors, and so on. But then, as we can advance the opportunities in the transportation sector, I would put the transportation sector probably as next for having perhaps the most obvious applications for hydrogen—we’re even working with Airbus on a pilot project to use hydrogen in airplanes, cars, things like that—and then focus on those industrial sectors. I would predict over time we’ll see hydrogen shift to those industrial sectors, get an early start in the energy sector. The energy sector shifts to some other decarbonization technologies as we deploy the hydrogen where it’s needed in those sectors, but we can use it as soon as it becomes ripe and available.

RANDOLPH BELL: Roger, thank you so much. Really appreciate you joining us today. It was a real pleasure and looking forward to you coming here in person next year.

So David, I want to come to you because, you know, the US government sitting there thinking about how we make all this happen. The Biden administration has done a lot of work on hydrogen, whether it’s the Hydrogen Earthshot, some of the work that you’ve done on the First Movers Coalition which has a major hydrogen component. I’d love you to just talk us through how you’re thinking about both the supply side, creating the supply of hydrogen at scale to make this meaningful, and then the demand side, helping to create markets where you’re actually going to get real bang for your buck from a decarbonization standpoint.

DAVID LIVINGSTON: Thank you, Randy. And it’s great to be back here in Dubai for the Global Energy Forum.

You know, Meg put it well: the chicken and egg problem, right? There’s a Gordian knot at the heart of where we are today and the hydrogen future that we want to see. And I think it’s the government’s role, as you put, to cut through that Gordian knot. So how do we cut through it? I think—the first stage is three parts: number one, we have to work to catalyze the demand signal that gets the supply invested in today—not at the end of this decade when we’re already going to need the supply to be online; we need those investments to start today. So how do we get those demand signals going?

Number two, we need to create the regulatory frameworks, the rules of the road, that are clear, fair, and consistent over time that allow capital to flow into the supply that then sees the demand and is getting unlocked.

Then number three, we need to work also in a complementary fashion to create some proof-of-concept value chains, right, so that, you know, we can start with somewhere like Europe. We know that Europe’s at about 8.5 million tons of hydrogen demand today; we know they’re going to ramp up to about 70 million tons of hydrogen demand. How do we make sure that that is supply—that’s not just a role for the United States; that’s a role for the United States working with our partners here in the region, in the Gulf and the broader Middle East region, to help supply that hydrogen demand in Europe. We’re not going to do it only with just supply and demand; we’re going to have to do it also with complementary infrastructure, with working together to synchronize the regulatory frameworks that each of us set out in our respective countries, et cetera.

So that’s what we’ve been doing. That’s what Secretary Kerry has been doing in his hydrogen engagements, climate and clean-energy transition engagements around the world. With Germany, we’ve been talking about how to do you create a single coherent kind of offtake contract that other—that suppliers, including here in the region, can understand well that provides that 10-year-plus investment certainty and investment security even if all the German players within German industry are going to have all sorts of idiosyncratic different needs. Some of them will want, you know, spot hydrogen. Some of them will want five-year offtake contracts, et cetera. Can the German government step up and actually play that role to create a common framework for supply partners externally even as they deal with that complexity internally? We’ve been working with them on that.

With our partners here in the region, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, et cetera, we’ve been working to try and accelerate US participation and US investment in the hydrogen potential here in the region.

And then, of course, critically, Randy, to get to that first point I made—the demand-side problem—that’s where our flagship initiative, the First Movers Coalition, comes in. First Movers Coalition, of course, is a collaboration between the State Department; the office of Secretary Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate; and the World Economic Forum where we’re going around to eight different critical, hard-to-abate sectors—steel, cement, shipping, aviation, chemicals, et cetera—and we’re trying to bring forward to today 2030 demand signals from some of the most credible counterparties in the world, right? Not, you know—not just any company, but the Amazons, the Apples, the DHLs, the Mercks of the world who say in the year 2030 in steel, for example, 10 percent of all my steel demand is going to be for zero-carbon steel. Amazon says 10 percent of all my goods shipped from 2030 going forward will be on zero-emission ships. Then you work backwards. You aggregate all these demand signals, right? Many different companies, one clear signal—one clear, understandable framework. With that, you can unleash more capital, you can lower the cost of capital, and as I said at the beginning you can get that supply unlocked.

Now, what we need to do is then translate that into the demand that we’re going to have in those sectors for various different forms of hydrogen, right—for clean hydrogen for shipping, clean hydrogen for producing low-carbon steel, clean hydrogen for the—for the aluminum sector or for the cement sector. And then, all of a sudden, you have a framework with which we can accelerate the investment that we’re putting into this sector over the years to come.

So we’re excited. We’re doing a lot. That’s not even to mention—hopefully, we can circle back around and mention some of the things that are happening domestically as well: the DOE Loan Programs Office, the Hydrogen Earthshot you mentioned, the billions of dollars of investment in clean hydrogen hubs that are going to be taking place thanks to bipartisan support from Congress. This is one of those rare areas. You know, you joke that hydrogen is the—you know, the thing that everyone likes to talk about at international conferences, but thankfully it’s also the thing that folks on both sides of the aisle in the United States, both parties, are excited about driving forward.

So let’s get together. Let’s, you know, set a clear framework and get this done.

RANDOLPH BELL: David, follow-up question. And the answer might just be no, but has the crisis changed the thinking or accelerated the timeline for some of these ambitious hydrogen plans?

DAVID LIVINGSTON: Well, what I think you’re going to see is—I don’t want to speak for other countries. I will say that it’s going to focus minds more than ever before on delivering on what the government has already laid out in terms of hydrogen ambitions. And again, just to name it, right, $8 ½ billion for dedicated clean-hydrogen hubs, billions of dollars more for CO2 capture that can help to drive the blue hydrogen economy in the United States. You’re already seeing major FIDs, you know, what I would call flagship final investment decisions in clean hydrogen. Air Products making a decision, you know, down in the Gulf Coast of the United States. Our DOE Loan Program Office had the first billion-dollar loan that it’s made in years, went to a what I would call next-generation clean hydrogen and methane pyrolysis, a company that’s working on producing hydrogen directly from gas where the carbon is stripped off and is turned into the—a usable product in carbon black. So, you know, we’ve got a lot going on in the United States. Yes, it’s probably going to accelerate in response to this crisis because of the opportunities we see.

And the other thing I’ll note is in the LNG deal that you saw between the United States and Europe, you saw in there a component, a hook there that was important—it was not just lip service—that talked about hydrogen-ready infrastructure and really prioritizing scaling up LNG and scaling up our domestic supply to meet this moment, to rise to this challenge, and at the same time we can use it to accelerate hydrogen-ready infrastructure. That’s going to be a tailwind for this technology set that is completely consistent with us, again, meeting the moment of the energy-security challenges that we face here in the year 2022.

So I do think that especially when you think about Europe and when you think about some of the other things that are coming down the pike in the way of the, you know, carbon border adjustment mechanisms and the like, you are going to see an acceleration of investment in this space.

RANDOLPH BELL: David, thank you. I’m going to just put a prediction out there that at this event next year we’re going to be talking a lot more about methane pyrolysis. I think that’s—there’s going to be a lot of action on that in the next nine months to a year.


RANDOLPH BELL: I want to play devil’s advocate for a minute and challenge the notion that there is even a chicken-and-egg problem. And so you can correct me if you think I’m wrong, but there is already a hundred million tons per year of hydrogen demand in refining, fertilizers, chemical feedstock. There’s hydrogen pipeline in Texas. There is ammonia pipeline in the Midwest of the United States. And I had really only focused on the US on this issue. So there’s already infrastructure. There’s already hydrogen and hydrogen carriers in place. Why are we not thinking of that as the demand signal and instead thinking of technologies that are five, 10, 15, 20, 25 years in the future when there already is a huge market that represents approximately 2 percent of global emissions? I want to make everyone answer this very quickly. Marco first.

MARCO ALVERÀ: Well, I think it’s all of the above. So you need to get to the existing market, but with gasoline prices at $100 per megawatt hour there’s an even bigger market if you look at all the uses that you can have because the current energy crisis is a crisis of prices, not only of security of supply. And so you have—natural gas today is priced at the same level in Europe as green hydrogen, so there’s a bigger and more urgent market than just simply reducing the emissions of the refineries, which is a very noble thing to do that will happen because of the CO2 costs that we have.


MEG GENTLE: I think that—I mean, as we look at the market, we look at a lot of existing infrastructure that is going to continue to be in use for several decades. So all of the cars that are on the road today, even if we are not driving them they’ll be exported from the US to Mexico or from the region to India. And so we’re actually looking that—to that as the market that has to be decarbonized by e-fuels, and that has to happen simultaneously with everything else.

And I think Musabbeh was talking about many things that are needed. So we need electric vehicles. We need hydrogen. We need e-fuels. And these are going to go into different parts of the infrastructure stack, where some parts of infrastructure we can turn over to new uses. We can convert natural gas pipelines into hydrogen pipelines. Some part of the infrastructure we have to decarbonize because it will still get used, and that’s what we’re trying to use hydrogen and e-fuels to do.


TIM HOLT: I don’t think we need another projection what the demand is in 2030. I think we know it’s going to come. Where I feel we struggle right now are, you know, from our—from the equipment supply side.

The projects that are actually moving are the projects that have an offtake. It’s what we do together with Meg in Chile. We’re working on a project in Colombia where the refinery takes 50 percent. Everywhere else, we do small pilots to see what we do with small offtakes. The question is, how—and back to your question—is really how do we create the credible offtake that would accelerate it?

And I would also caution if I see how long it takes to get these projects off the ground—and I’m not just talking permitting, but I mean, the development cycles. We talk about 2030. A typical project, I mean, five years plus? So if we want to meet the—that’s seven-and-a-half years that is left till 2030. And if it takes five years if we start now, I mean, plus at the same time we see the increased demand and CAPEX spend in the traditional oil and gas, we’re going to have to crunch in the industry. So I think we need to be now really diligent to say how do we get this started and how do we start commercial-scale projects like we have seen in Chile.

RANDOLPH BELL: David. And David, you have a harder question, which is—which is: Why don’t you make the current hydrogen use part of the policy framework that you’re developing?

DAVID LIVINGSTON: Well, I think you—look, what we want to do—let me frame it this way. What we want to do more than anything is create a future of clean-energy abundance, right? This is not about narrowing the amount of energy we’re using or narrowing the options; this should be about unleashing clean-energy abundance. If we can do that best by targeting replacing today’s, you know, traditional hydrogen with clean hydrogen, so be it. I’m all for that. If we can do that best by looking to—you know, to the uses of the future in aviation and trucking and shipping, in steelmaking and aluminum smelting, et cetera, then I’m all for that. And if it’s best to do all of the above, then I am all for that.

You know, I think what we need to do is set our eyes on a clear metric. It should be driven by volumes and CO2 intensity. Let’s be inclusive about the technologies and the strategies that can get there. Let’s bring all players into the tent, work towards that goal, get those volumes moving and scaled up. And you know, and let’s do that by, again, creating these—to your point, creating these proof-of-concept supply chains that answer the question, OK, we know this is here, we know that’s here, how are we going to get there? We need these proof-of-concept supply chains that are going to paint the picture of what can be scaled up from 2030 onwards.

Because ultimately, by the way, what we’re talking about is the solution. It’s the—it is the, you know, value creative, non-zero sum, positive-sum endgame for the 70-plus percent of natural resources—of hydrocarbons that are owned by, ultimately, NOCs around the world, right? We need to paint that picture of a positive endgame for those resources that creates, again, a virtuous political economy that moves towards decarbonization and creates value for those economies rather than presenting them with tradeoffs.

RANDOLPH BELL: David, if you’re sitting here for an answer—to answer the question, since you sit here in the UAE, you get the final word on that devil’s advocate question.

GARETH WYNN: Sure. So I think in a way you’re right, there’s already the strong demand signals there from the sectors that you mentioned. Most of those, of course are being supplied with gray hydrogen, so it’s not—so it’s not clean. It’s already got—so—

RANDOLPH BELL: Yeah, and so—yeah. The question is, why don’t we decarbonize that first?

GARETH WYNN: Right, yeah. So I think—I think you’re right. And it’s easy by the time you create—by the time you decarbonize that to see the other sources of heavy transportation, shipping, and so on. But this brings me back to the commercial case.

And so a lot of it comes back to a point that I think David was making earlier, which is a critical factor in unlocking the potential of hydrogen is how you create the price signals that trigger the investment not just in hydrogen, but in clean hydrogen. And it doesn’t matter whether that’s blue or green at this point in time, or pink, but it—as long as—as long as it’s clean hydrogen and we have the right price signals. And in the end, that comes down to how are you going to price CO2, one way or another.

RANDOLPH BELL: Thank you. And I did not pay him to say I was right.

We have just a few more minutes, and so I want to—want to give everybody one final chance to give the action that we need to take in the next year. Because we really are talking about taking short-term actions because we have a moment where people are willing to take actions that they might not have been four weeks ago, even, and really think what can we do now that may not have been possible four weeks ago that will help unlock the future hydrogen economy. So, again, we’re going to go down the row, so we’ll start with Marco.

MARCO ALVERÀ: So we are actually doing this already to connect North Africa to Europe with existing infrastructure. And if we can connect Morocco-Spain and Spain to Italy and Tunisia to Italy, then we suddenly have a massive opportunity to bring very cheap forever infrastructure, forever energy into the mix. And it won’t be sufficient, but it will be a big part of Europe’s energy strategy in response to the crisis that we’re living because it addresses prices, it addresses security, and it addresses the climate. And I think the US-to-Europe LNG deal is essentially creating a virtual pipeline that connects the Henry Hub and the TTF to lower prices, but because that infrastructure will be hydrogen-ready it’s also really helping the Fit for 55, the green European agenda, moving that really fast forward.

RANDOLPH BELL: Marco, thank you so much.


MEG GENTLE: I think we have to talk to our policymakers and explain to them that we need a carbon accounting system that just counts the carbon in a uniform way and doesn’t put any other constraints on what kind of hydrogen it is or what kind of carbon capture it is or what kind of technology is used to produce these things. Some of these policies that are developing are actually creating constraints that will make it hard for us to have an abundance of green fuels, and so I think the time is now with policymakers to make sure that we have a coherent accounting system for carbon that is transparent and allows us all to make sound investments based on the relative merit of the fuel and its carbon content.


TIM HOLT: So, for Siemens Energy, we’re doing two things. We’re spending about a billion in R&D each year. You know, since last year we’re diverting a significant portion of that into R&D focused on electrolyzer, on hydrogen. The second one is ramping up capacity—manufacturing capacity on the electrolyzer. Even so, there’s a lot of talk, no firm orders. We believe in the future and we believe in investing in it now to be ready for the 2030.

RANDOLPH BELL: Tim, thank you.


DAVID LIVINGSTON: Let’s get the—let’s get the government-industry dialogue going about setting a clear benchmark for clean hydrogen, ask everyone to do their math. And then that will allow us to move from talking about colors to talking about volumes, which is where we need to be as we head into next year.


GARETH WYNN: And then a point to add on top of what the other panelists have said. I think the key here is also going to be collaboration. I don’t think this is—that this is a game that’s going to be won by one party rolling in and dominating. I think this is going to require energy suppliers and users to collaborate on how to make this—the whole clean-hydrogen part commercially viable, and that means looking and understanding a whole process not just—not just the hydrogen bit of it, necessarily.

RANDOLPH BELL: Thank you so much.

Thank you, everybody. This was a really great discussion. I always love having these conversations and I’m sure we will be doing more of this. And again, the prediction is methane pyrolysis is on the agenda for 2022 and it will be a key topic at the Global Energy Forum in 2023.

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Image: Shortly before the opening of a huge solar plant for the production of green hydrogen in Mallorca, workers are working on the final details. The plant is part of the European Green Hysland project and the first industrial plant in Spain. The plant will produce green hydrogen from solar energy and water to be used as fuel for environmentally friendly cruises and buses, as well as hydrogen batteries. Photo via Reuters/DPA / Picture Alliance.