Hydrogen market | Need to know

Canada Publication April 2019

How much is the hydrogen generation market expected to grow in the coming years?

The global hydrogen generation market was valued at around USD 100 billion in 2018 and – given the increasing demand for clean fuels as well as petroleum products that are refined using hydrogen – market research reports estimate it should reach approximately USD 200 billion by 2023.

What are the main factors driving market growth?

Several factors come into play, including stricter regulations for sulfur content in petroleum products that were implemented by a number of countries, leading to more hydrogen being used for desulfurization. Greenhouse gas emission regulations are also boosting the fuel cell vehicle market. While the number of FC vehicles sold globally is still only in the thousands, manufacturers are investing in the technology.

What are the factors preventing the market from developing at a faster pace?

  • A lack of infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles 
  • High costs due to inability to achieve economies of scale
  • Storage issues
  • Concerns regarding safety, as it is colourless, odourless and highly flammable
  • High volumes of drinkable water are needed for use in electrolysis

How is hydrogen technology used in the transport sector?

  • In recent years, many companies established in the United States have turned to fuel cells in their logistics facilities, distribution centers and warehouses to power more than 15,000 forklifts. 
  • Some 500 fuel cell electric buses are on the road worldwide, and thousands of vehicles are to be deployed in several countries over the next few years.
  • The world’s first hydrogen-powered train, made by Alstom, began operating in Northern Germany last fall. According to the French rail manufacturer, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Italy and Canada have also expressed interest in hydrogen trains.
  • The Hydrogen Council, an industry-led effort to develop the hydrogen economy, aims for 1 in 12 cars sold in California, Germany, Japan and South Korea to be powered by hydrogen by 2030.

What are the legal issues confronting hydrogen development?

Early movers in the hydrogen economy have a number of legal needs:

  • Innovative proprietary designs and technologies often need legal advice concerning technology, licensing, and patent protection issues.
  • Proponents may seek to share the risks associated with investing in a nascent industry, demanding best practices in joint venturing and partnership arrangements, to manage taxation and governance challenges.
  • Both capital investment and technology development require financing expertise.
  • Understanding permitting and regulatory processes and their associated risks is an important up-front step that may drive both project design and financial structures.

Government or utility incentives for new load or for clean energy development may be necessary to catalyze early projects, such as qualifying for greenhouse gas offset credits.


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