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Industrial gas giant Air Liquide plans major investments in hydrogen production

December 17, 2020


Air Liquide SA, the largest supplier of industrial gases, aims to spend billions of euros over the next ten years on hydrogen production to meet a surge in demand driven by a global shift to cleaner energy, its chief executive officer said on Wednesday.

The gas could account for 20% of worldwide energy consumption by 2050, with a market value of about $2.5 trillion, Benoit Potier told a French senate hearing on Wednesday. This means global investment of $5 trillion to $7.5 trillion, enabling carbon dioxide emissions to be cut by 6 billion tons.

Europe sees the fuel as key to its future energy mix, and France in September unveiled a 7 billion-euro ($8.5 billion) plan to support hydrogen use. Producing clean hydrogen from water using renewable energy is costlier than using fossil fuels, however, meaning subsidies are needed to lower costs.

Potier said France’s efforts were “a good start” and enough for the next two to three years but called for further help to scale up hydrogen technology, as well as a carbon price that would increase over time, in order to make investment calculations and justify hydrogen spending to shareholders.

Major development of hydrogen will take place between 2030 and 2050, he said, adding that Europe needs to invest in renewable energy to develop the industry and catch up.

“There cannot be a clean hydrogen world without massive upstream investment,” Potier said. “Right now in Europe, we don’t have enough renewable electricity to be able to develop hydrogen.”

[Rudy Ruitenberg]

More: Air Liquide to invest billions in bet on hydrogen boom

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