Resilient Energy Infrastructure Transition with Focus on Hydrogen  

Day 3, 6 May 2022, 1000 - 1100 IST

Session Annotation

This session on hydrogen as a promising energy source for the future will deep dive into the risks and potential solutions to building disaster resilience of new hydrogen infrastructure and resilience measures for investments in hydrogen infrastructure for clean energy.

Session Overview

Hydrogen is likely to form a critical pillar of a clean energy transition for countries across the world. Countries around the world are looking to decarbonize their energy systems by better management of demand as well as switching to cleaner options-including hydrogen. This is understandable   since hydrogen   offers   a   green, carbon-neutral   alternative   to   generate electricity as well as to support transport and industry. It is estimated that nearly 6 percent of cumulative global emission reductions can be achieved by switching to hydrogen as a fuel. This has led to what we are seeing as the emergence of a ‘hydrogen economy’. The hydrogen vision   requires massive   investments   in   new energy   infrastructure. Despite   an overall economic slowdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hydrogen investments have been steadily increasing with the majority being driven by the private sector. The investment value of large-scale hydrogen projects globally as of July 2021 are worth US$500 billion through to the year 2030 (Hydrogen Council, 2021), with total projected investments amounting to nearly US$15 trillion by 2050 (Reuters, 2021).

This shift is expected to require repurposing existing or creating new energy  infrastructure with  substantial  investments.  All these developments are unfolding in the backdrop  of  the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters across the world. Rising temperatures, varying precipitation trends, and frequent extreme weather events are posing significant risks to infrastructure systems worldwide; existing and future infrastructure for hydrogen is  no exception.

Confidence in hydrogen as a promising energy source of the future is currently being driven by innovations in technology development to address issues of cost. Across the world, there isan emphasis  on  bringing  new  technology  solutions to  the  market  or  scaling  mature applications  for  commercialization.  In  these  endeavors,  disaster  safety  has  mainly  been interpreted  in  relation  to  occupational  hazards  such  as  inflammability  of  the  gas,  high-pressure containers etc., while safety of assetsand components inthe value chain has been sidelined. In addition, the current and future vulnerability of hydrogen value chain –especially regarding generation needs to be examined further.

Cascading impacts of future availability of resources such as water and land in the context of a changing climate are critical  for  designing  hydrogen  infrastructure  systems  that  can withstand long-term changes in climate, continue operation against immediate shocks from disaster  events,  and  restore functionality  swiftly  after  an  interruption  resulting  from  these hazards.

At the same time, a holistic approach to the hydrogen ecosystem should not only prioritize a market focus but also disaster risk focus, at all stages of the hydrogen value chain including downstream (production), midstream (storage and transport), and upstream (end-user).