My message to COP: Encourage investment in a hydrogen power network
As the world looks to Glasgow for the COP26 conference on climate change, we’ll be discussing some of the changes our industry needs to make and reflecting on the COP debate on the AECOM Blog. Join the discussion on social media by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Find more information in our special COP26 edition of our “Future of Infrastructure” report: https://infrastructure.aecom.com
We are now nearly halfway through COP26, and there is much talk about new green markets that governments are relying on to help us reach our carbon ambitions. If these markets are to develop, they will need the appropriate incentives and regulatory frameworks – and hydrogen is no exception.
At the 2021 World Hydrogen Conference, held in Amsterdam, there was great excitement about the potential hydrogen has in the mix of solutions towards a low carbon global economy. If developed from green sources, hydrogen can be produced and used to provide energy for fuel in mobility and electricity generation in production for industry without releasing harmful emissions. But to reach its potential as a low-carbon source of energy, investment is required in low-carbon methods of producing it, as well as storing and moving it around safely.
There are research and development incentives for the development of hydrogen in mobility in many countries which are supporting the transition away from hydrocarbon vehicles, and investors seem to be betting on movement in this area. Investment in supply, storage and mobility is at record levels without a clear path to demand. To help hydrogen become a true commercial proposition, fiscal incentives will be required. This could include accelerating tax on heavy carbon emitters while increasing subsidies to create demand, for example.
At AECOM, we’re busy laying the groundwork for this shift, supporting our clients with complex environmental permitting requirements and leading the development of hydrogen for mobility as well as providing engineering solutions to projects located in difficult to reach places. We provide front end services for feasibility, permitting and Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) for hydrogen facilities as well as engineering, procurement and construction management services (EPCM) and design services in mobility. These last two seem to be the focus of government subsidy and private investment. We are well placed to become the integrator of choice as we expand our relationships with key industry finance, technology and solution providers.
Recognizing the significant barriers global economies currently face, we are seeing an alignment between societal will, government response, corporate need, finance availability and technological innovation in the push to our goal of net zero carbon emissions. If we’re to see a global hydrogen market emerge, however, the pace of change will need to accelerate significantly. To encourage investment and forward orders for hydrogen, we need a regulatory framework. The potential is huge – but its fulfilment is resting on decisions from politicians.