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The Renewable Energy and Clean Technology sector continues
to experience growth, development, and innovation. Targets have been set around
the world to reduce emissions and lower carbon footprint to create a more
energy efficient and greener future. As we move through the energy transition
process, there are huge investments and initiatives in place to utilise natural
elements and energy sources to create more sustainable energy. Hydrogen energy
is increasingly being discussed and considered as the next big step in
renewable energy advancements, with the scope for it to contribute
significantly to decarbonize our future.
Hydrogen contributes to almost three quarters of the earths
mass and is a key clean energy source which can be produced from a range of sources
such as, natural gases, solar, wind, nuclear power and biogas. It is predicted
that the development and growth of hydrogen energy will result in the creation
of 30 million jobs and account for around 18% of global energy by 2050
according to the International Hydrogen Energy Commission. In February 2021,
over 30 countries created a hydrogen energy roadmap to demonstrate their
commitment to develop hydrogen energy for the future.
A lot of countries are beginning to heavily invest in
hydrogen energy to get ahead of the game and become an early adopter, with the
recognition that it’s not only positive for the overall economy and will boost
jobs across all areas, but it also significantly contributes to reducing air
pollution and combatting climate change.
Many global organisations have been eager to bring hydrogen to the forefront and huge projects have already kick-started worldwide. The UK government has confirmed this year the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund worth up to £240 million to fund projects developing low-carbon hydrogen projects.
Some of the latest large-scale projects announced this year include:
Shell – Netherlands: First major scale green hydrogen project (200MW)
Green Hydrogen International: 60GW renewable H2
project in Texas to be powered by wind and solar
BP Plc: Powered by wind and solar in Western
HyDeal Ambition: Hydrogen energy project in
There are many elements and stakeholders involved in the
process of creating an efficient and cost-effective hydrogen energy infrastructure,
and the key to increasing the scale of hydrogen energy is to build a robust
supply chain. The end user of energy will continue to grow as hydrogen becomes
more readily available across sectors for both private and commercial use. Not
only does the production of hydrogen need to be considered, but also the
storage and transportation while considering the sectors and customers who will
benefit from hydrogen energy use going forward.
Producing Hydrogen – Green versus Blue Hydrogen
Hydrogen production can be costly and a potentially volatile
element to work with. It needs to be separated from other elements through the
process of either electrolysis or steam methane reforming. Here comes the
distinction between green and blue hydrogen.
Hydrogen energy is only green when the energy used in the production process for electrolysis comes from a natural source such as wind, water or solar. If hydrogen energy is produced through steam methane reforming, it produces blue hydrogen, over 90% of hydrogen is produced through this process. Green hydrogen is the best method for sustainability but is significantly more expensive to produce in comparison to blue hydrogen.
There are questions around the differences between green and
blue hydrogen and comparing costs, efficiency and sustainability. Ultimately,
green hydrogen is the best in terms of sustainability as it is produced from
renewable energy sources, however it is significantly more expensive than blue
hydrogen produced from natural gas, therefore blue hydrogen currently provides
a lower carbon fuel generation at a much lower cost than that of green
There are large areas of research and investment into the
storage of hydrogen from two perspectives. The first being short term storage
solutions to bridge the gap between hydrogen production and the demand for
energy. The second, is to consider longer term storage solutions for hydrogen.
This would give the opportunity to scale up the production of hydrogen without
the need to transport and use the energy immediately. It will open increased
opportunities for production, transportation, and energy usage. Companies such
as Engie are developing means to store hydrogen at a wider scale in underground
Given the nature of hydrogen, transportation can pose
challenge and potential risk. Not only is it costly to produce hydrogen, but
there are also significant costs with transportation. Even though hydrogen is
being utilised in various sectors, it is still in the early stages of adoption
when it comes to transporting and shipping on a larger scale. Considerations
need to be given to the efficiency of shipping to ensure the transportation has
a low carbon footprint.
What sectors can benefit from hydrogen energy?
Although hydrogen energy is currently being used on a small
scale across the globe, as it’s still a relatively new means of energy, it is
already proving to be a viable energy source; from powering transport in big
cities with taxies and buses, to private vehicle use and heavy industrial
There is scope for hydrogen to be used on a much wider scale
in the coming decades and the industry areas set to benefit the most are those
that are difficult to decarbonise. These include Glass and Steel Manufacturing,
Whiskey Distilleries, Car Manufacturing, Chemical Manufacturing and the Heavy
Construction Equipment industry.
There are businesses within the Heavy Construction Equipment
industry heavily investing in developing hydrogen energy and technology. JCB
have pledged to invest £100 million to ramp up the scale of hydrogen energy
across all functions to lower carbon emissions. JCB predominantly use diesel
for a large proportion of their machinery and vehicles, with some electric
models in action. They are in the process of developing prototypes to be
fuelled by hydrogen energy and hope to be utilising hydrogen on a much wider
scale as we near 2030.
Testing, Inspection & Certification
With the advancements in renewable energy, new energy
sources and evolving processes, there is an increased demand within Testing,
Inspection and Certification. With new products brought to market, the safety
and compliance must be reviewed to ensure regulations are met and risk
assessments are carried out. Specifically working with Hydrogen can pose risks
due to the volatile nature of the element so this stage in the process is
crucial and one that will generate high numbers of jobs across renewable energy
and testing, inspection and certification.
The Future of Hydrogen and the Impact on Talent
There are many goals and initiatives in place to facilitate
a future with cheaper and greener hydrogen. The hydrogen market is one of the
fastest areas of growth within renewable energy across the globe, with huge
projects underway in Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East.
With Hydrogen set to grow in scale over the next decade,
there will become an increasing need to attract talent to drive new processes
and innovation forward. There will be growth in all areas related to Hydrogen
with both specialist technical and engineering roles, through to commercial,
sales and leadership positions. Now is the time for businesses to resource plan
and establish the talent they will need to embrace pending developments within
Hydrogen energy and the allied industries they will need to consider for talent
At CSG Talent, we’re already witnessing rapid growth across
all areas of renewable energy. The Renewable Energy team play a key role in
securing the right talent to drive sustainable energy solutions for some of the
biggest global players within renewable energy and we are already experiencing
demand for roles within the hydrogen energy sector. In particular, the
renewable energy recruitment team at CSG Talent are seeing increased demand for
talent within Research and Development, Product and Commercial/Strategy
If you’re keen to explore further insights on Renewable
Energy and Clean Technology, click
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