The Global Hydrogen Review is an annual publication by the International Energy Agency to track progress in hydrogen production and demand. And – for the first time ever – the publication includes ammonia in its break down of current & future hydrogen markets, including the use of ammonia as a maritime fuel. Download a .pdf of the full report here.
Ammonia’s role by 2050 (according to the IEA)
The pathway to net zero emissions by 2050 requires substantially wider hydrogen use in existing applications (e.g. the chemical industry) and a significant uptake of hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels for new uses in heavy industry, heavy-duty road transport, shipping and aviation.
In the Net zero Emissions Scenario, hydrogen demand multiplies almost sixfold to reach 530 Mt H2 by 2050, with half of this demand in industry and transport. In fact, industry demand nearly triples from around 50 Mt H2 in 2020 to around 140 Mt H2 in 2050. Transport demand soars from less than 20 kt H2 to more than 100 Mt H2 in 2050, owing to the volumes that small shares of hydrogen can achieve in certain segments.
By 2050, around one-third of hydrogen demand in the Net Zero Emissions Scenario is used to produce hydrogen‐based fuels such as ammonia, synthetic kerosene and synthetic methane. Ammonia use expands beyond existing applications (primarily nitrogen fertilisers) to be adopted for use as a fuel.
As ammonia has advantages over the direct use of hydrogen for long-distance shipping, in the Net Zero Emissions Scenario it meets around 45% of global shipping fuel demand. To reduce CO2 emissions in power generation, ammonia is also increasingly cofired in existing coal plants, with some former coal-fired units being fully retrofitted to use 100% ammonia to provide low-carbon dispatchable power.Hydrogen-based fuel use must expand to meet ambitious climate and energy goals, Global Hydrogen Review 2021, IEA, October 2021
Drastic ramp-up required for Net Zero Scenario
As seen in the figure next door, the IEA argues a drastic ramp up in the production of hydrogen-based fuels like ammonia is required by 2050. Announced government pledges (on the left) appear to include METI’s ammonia clean fuel import targets for Japan, and the Net Zero Scenario on the right most likely adds the effect of IMO decarbonisation targets.