Global demand for hydrogen is at an all-time high, and while popularity surged for this technology in the 1970s, 1990s and early 2000s as well, a recent Bloomberg article shows that experts believe this time is different.
According to the technical general manager for hydrogen at Toyota Motor Europe, this time "the key game-changer is the Paris [climate] agreement." Limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius will require decarbonization of various sectors including transport, industry and power, a feat which will bring into play all energy sources. The Paris Agreement and related targets are making hydrogen an increasingly necessary and viable low carbon alternative to traditional polluting energy sources. A higher price of oil would increase this tendency. The fact that hydrogen produces no CO2 when burned makes it a potential "clean" replacement for other sources, such as natural gas. This also depends on the way hydrogen is produced—i.e., using fossil fuels or energy from renewable sources.
Yet there’s still some way to go. Critical questions of hydrogen technology include its cost and safety, with current projects relying on government funding and subsidies. Yet the expected implementation of carbon taxes and emissions schemes globally may tip the balance in hydrogen's favour. Advocates also point out the dramatic cost reduction of technologies such as solar and wind and suggest that it’s not unreasonable to expect similar patterns for hydrogen.
Despite the challenges, various transport and energy companies are turning their attention to implementing and scaling existing hydrogen projects.