LucidCatalyst has produced a quantitative and sobering analysis of what it would take to fully decarbonize “difficult-to-decarbonize” areas of industry such as aviation, shipping, cement production and industrial activities that currently rely on liquid and gas fossil fuels to the tune of 100 million barrels a day. They review a pathway for synthesizing sufficient quantities of hydrogen as a fuel-stock for ammonia or other synthetic fuels and they quantify the scale at which this pathway would have to be deployed in order to meet the Paris goals. The bad news, is that this is a huge undertaking that would require enormous investment as well as the dedication of many industrial groups—especially ship yards—in order to achieve the scale required. The good news is that this pathway is based upon existing clean energy technologies (but with options for newer advanced energy technologies to play a role down the road, particularly advanced nuclear). This plan ultimately would save huge sums of money in comparison to the investments that would be required to continue with our dependency on increasingly hard to source fossil fuels.
The overall cost of this approach, the report reveals, is less than the existing investment that would otherwise be needed simply to maintain fossil fuel flows in future decades. The clean energy transition from oil to hydrogen-based fuels could be achieved with a global investment of $17 trillion, spent over 30 years from 2020 to 2050. This is substantially lower than the $25 trillion investment the oil and gas industry expect to spend in order to maintain fossil fuels flows in future decades, and dramatically less than the $70 trillion investment that would be needed for an equivalent hydrogen strategy based only on wind and solar.
We believe this report is a must read for those who are looking to under the scale of the challenge before us: “Missing Link to a Livable Climate: How Hydrogen-Enabled Synthetic Fuels Can Help Deliver the Paris Goals.“