The Paris Agreement is an ambitious agreement to limit temperature rise to within 2oC. This implies that all fossil fuel emissions should be eliminated within the next few decades especially given an additional 4 billion people (based on projected population growth) would require access to energy. The urgency of the climate change challenge requires significant changes in our energy-usage patterns.
Aside from some biofuels, our present energy mix is made up of about 20% green electrons (nuclear & renewables) and about 80% (fossil fuel) grey molecules, some of which quickly transformed into electrons. Our transition to the energy mix of the future which should ideally be comprised of 50% green electrons and 50% green molecules, will require a suitable infrastructure at a reasonable cost. Green electrons are relatively easy to produce, but costly to transmit and store. Green molecules could be complex to produce (such as synthetic natural gas), but are much easier and cheaper to transport and store. All these challenges cannot be addressed without ample budget for technology innovation.
As renewables and nuclear face limitations, a carbon-free hydrogen economy offers very interesting solutions to the challenges green electrons and molecules bring. How can we realize such an “energy transition” while meeting the increasing demand for energy, especially in Asia? How will the Middle Eastern energy-rich countries fit in the picture after this “energy transition”? This year’s IEEJ Roundtable will attempt to address these questions via discussions on pragmatic approaches on the use of carbon-free hydrogen, providing an ideal platform for those keen to understand the recent developments in our energy mix.