As global warming mitigation and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduction become
increasingly urgent to counter climate change, many nations have announced net-zero
emission targets as a commitment to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Lowcarbon
hydrogen has received renewed attention under these decarbonization frameworks
as a potential low-carbon fuel and feedstock, especially for hard-to-abate sectors such as
heavy-duty transportation (trucks, shipping) and heavy industries (e.g., steel, chemicals).
Green hydrogen in particular, defined as hydrogen produced from water electrolysis with
zero-carbon electricity, could have significant potential in helping countries transition
their economies to meet climate goals. Today, green hydrogen production faces enormous
challenges, including its cost and economics, infrastructure limitations, and potential increases in CO2 emissions (e.g., if produced with uncontrolled fossil power generation, which would be hydrogen but would not be green).
This report, part of the Carbon Management Research Initiative at Columbia University’s
Center on Global Energy Policy, examines green hydrogen production and applications to
understand the core challenges to its expansion at scale and the near-term opportunity
to enable deployment. An analysis using Monte Carlo simulations with a varying range of
assumptions, including both temporal (i.e., today versus the future) and geographical (e.g., the
US, the EU, China, India, Japan) factors, anticipates emissions intensity and costs of producing
green hydrogen. The authors evaluate these production costs for different scenarios as well
as associated infrastructure requirements and highlight near-term market opportunities and
policies to motivate development of the green hydrogen industry.

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