Executive Director’s Message | May 2021
Hydrogen- The Energy Carrier of Future
The steady discovery of fossil fuel including crude oil and gas over the last century has played an important role in the miraculous development and the transformation of the world community. However, the ever-increasing consumption of fossil fuel, which has grown exponentially over the decades has led to a sharp rise in carbon emissions and global warming.
Responding to this, the global scientific community and policymakers have focused their efforts on tackling the challenges posed by global warming. A successful example of these efforts is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was opened for signatures during the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 calling on certain states to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This was followed by the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol five years later in 1997 which called on the industrialized countries to limit and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the agreed set of targets.
Furthermore, the rising public awareness culminated in a spectacular achievement in 2016, when more than 195 countries signed The Paris Agreement, in which each signatory proclaimed its own Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
Meanwhile, the dramatic progress in renewed clean energy resources, especially wind and PV, over the last decade, has led to an unprecedented reduction in the unit cost of energy generated from renewable sources. Due to all these advances, we have started to see governments especially including those of the EU, UK, and Japan, among others, putting in place national strategies targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. For this to happen, producing hydrogen to use as an energy carrier through clean and sustainable ways is crucial.
That been said, decarbonizing an entire energy system represents a paradigm shift as it requires the introduction of disruptive changes in the energy production for electricity, industry, transport, buildings, and agriculture. This requires finding innovative solutions, technologies, and policies in little more than a single generation.
The development of a new energy mix, in which hydrogen is an important component, is laden with various challenges to overcome. To further drive the decarbonisation of the energy sector and related industries using hydrogen, we must commit an investment of approximately $15 trillion globally between now and 2050.
From Qatar’s perspective, it is pleasing to see that the new Qatar RDI Strategy 2030 has underpinned the need on moving towards green energy. It seems likely that, we need to rely on the blue hydrogen in large part from fossil fuels using existing energy systems with enhanced CCS. Hence, Qatar with its abundant natural gas reserves is set to play a big role in providing a bridge between blue and green hydrogen.
In addition to that, the accumulated expertise in the gigantic cryogenic liquefaction plants and the world’s largest carrier fleet in operation for transporting LNG can offer great opportunities to the international community in the efforts to transition to a hydrogen economy.
To have a closer look at the opportunities and challenges of using hydrogen as a renewable energy source, QNRF recently organized a Research Outcome Seminar (RoS) in collaboration with the EU-GCC Clean Energy Technology Network and the European Union Delegation to the State of Kuwait and the State of Qatar. Titled, “Hydrogen - The Energy Carrier of the Future,” the webinar brought together experts from Qatar and internationally to exchange their ideas and share impactful outcomes of the latest research happening in the field.
In this month’s Research Matters, we feature some of our speakers and researchers who participated in the RoS to tell you more about the latest developments in utilizing hydrogen for clean energy over the years and offer a future perspective to provide a good learning experience for all our readers. I hope the insights in this month’s newsletter will help you know more about Qatar’s push towards transitioning to a sustainable, diversified economy.