Industry is on the right path but has more to offer in pursuit of energy access and global decarbonisation, writes Rod Christie, Executive Vice President, Turbomachinery & Process Solutions at Baker Hughes

Hydrogen can play a significant role in decarbonisation as part of a multi-faceted approach to improving efficiencies, reducing emissions and deploying new solutions. The promise of the technology, however, can only be delivered if industry and policymakers face up to a series of hard truths.

First, major acceleration across technologies and infrastructure will be required to meet net zero. Today’s solutions will help to address emissions but alone cannot meet the scale of change necessary.

Second, hydrocarbons will not disappear overnight; oil and gas will be required to help meet energy demand for the next 30 years. Any transition path must incorporate and facilitate efficiencies and decarbonisation in this sector.

And third, collaboration is central to reaching net zero. Producers, technology providers, energy buyers, and policymakers must all work together to leverage existing solutions, those at prototype stage, and those at an earlier stage of development.

Hit the accelerator

An array of technologies is required to deliver the power of hydrogen across production, storage, transportation, and utilisation.

These include compressors, gas turbines and non-metallic pipes; sensors, monitoring and diagnostics including inspection solutions for enbrittlement prevention or detection; and clean, integrated power solutions to produce power with hydrogen and blends.

Any company looking to position itself in this sector—and to maximise the speed of development—must commit to adapting its core operations to these requirements, and all that means for investment in growth and positioning to take advantage of any gaps.

There are several ways to produce, transport, and use hydrogen and opportunities will exist, and should be grasped, to improve project economics. This is particularly true as the technology matures and governments prioritise different segments of the market.

Financial incentives could further encourage deployment of production technologies and fast-track the R&D required to reduce costs going forward. Groups such as the Hydrogen Council are already helping to shape opinion in this area.

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It takes a village…

No one company has all the answers when it comes to hydrogen; collaboration and partnerships will be required to deploy solutions effectively and sustainably.

On the production side, for example, our partnership with Air Products is a strategic global collaboration to develop next generation hydrogen compression to lower the cost of production and accelerate the adoption of hydrogen as a zero-carbon fuel.

As part of the collaboration, Baker Hughes will provide Air Products with advanced hydrogen compression and gas turbine technology for global projects, including NovaLT16 turbines for Air Products’ net-zero hydrogen energy complex in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and advanced compression technology for the NEOM carbon-free hydrogen project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

And we are partnering with Snam—which has one of Europe’s most extensive natural transmission networks and natural gas storage capacity—to implement the adoption of hydrogen blended with natural gas in their current transmission network infrastructure through the testing and development of our NovaLT12 “hybrid” hydrogen turbine.

Hydrogen will undoubtedly be a critical component of the energy mix of the future, a key enabler to achieve net zero, which is why companies including Baker Hughes—which has served the sector since 1962—have placed technology at the centre of the efforts to make our energy safer, cleaner, and more efficient.

Financial incentives could further encourage deployment of enabling technologies and infrastructure and fast-track the R&D required to reduce costs going forward. Groups such as the Hydrogen Council and Hydrogen Europe are doing the crucial work of helping to shape opinion in this area.

Finance will also play a central role. The Five T Hydrogen Fund, for example, has already invested €260m as part of a €1bn ambition backed by the financial, strategic, and technical expertise of investors including Baker Hughes.

Team H2

The hydrogen supply chain has an obligation to speed the energy transition through development and deployment. We must collectively participate to take energy and industry forward with innovation, on behalf of both people and the planet.

There is already a marked willingness to achieve these shared goals, a new way of working that acknowledges the variety of technologies and skills required to develop new forms of energy including hydrogen.

The solutions developed are crucial to meeting the net-zero challenges in front of us, in areas including capital, capabilities, and infrastructure. The industry, including Baker Hughes, is committed to putting its expertise to work so we can all achieve the changes necessary.