Dive into the hydrogen economy's potential with our in-depth guide.
It’s not easy to predict the future, particularly when it comes to economics and geopolitical wrangles. However, in recent years several countries have been positioning themselves to be at the forefront of the hydrogen revolution. Here we take a look at some of them:
Canada, a leading global hydrogen producer, offers a competitive low-carbon hydrogen industry that draws international investors. Thanks to its advanced technology and fuel cell expertise, Canada sees hydrogen as a potential fuel to decarbonize its entire economy.
The country demonstrates its hydrogen leadership by hosting the world's largest clean hydrogen production facility. The nation ranks second globally in CO2 storage capacity and is among the top ten hydrogen producers worldwide.
For instance, Canada, one of the world's most environmentally conscious steel producers, is exploring hydrogen's capability to fully decarbonize iron and steel production. As part of its goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, Canadian experts are studying hydrogen's role in green steel production, both as a heat source and a key ingredient.
With a robust national hydrogen strategy and renowned research hubs, Canada presents an optimal destination for hydrogen investments. Being rich in natural resources, the country sees potential in hydrogen to reduce emissions, especially in sectors challenging to decarbonize.
While the focus in the US has been more on electric vehicles, there's increasing interest in hydrogen, especially for sectors like heavy-duty transport, shipping, and industry where electrification is more challenging.
The US Department of Energy's Hydrogen Program does research on everything about hydrogen, from making it to using it in different ways.
Plus, the US National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap outlines how clean hydrogen can help the nation meet its decarbonization goals. It details the current state of hydrogen in the US and offers a plan for expanding its production and use through 2030, 2040, and 2050.
Japan has been an early and enthusiastic adopter of hydrogen technology. The country has invested heavily in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, infrastructure, and power generation. Japan sees hydrogen as a means to ensure energy security and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially after the Fukushima disaster made the nation reconsider its reliance on nuclear energy.
As part of this vision, Japan has set a clear objective to evolve into a 'hydrogen society.' Through substantial investments in vehicles like Toyota's Mirai and expansive infrastructure, the country aspires for hydrogen to be a cornerstone of its energy matrix by 2050.
Like Japan, South Korea has been promoting hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and the necessary infrastructure. Leading South Korean corporations, such as Hyundai, are pioneers in the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle industry. South Korea has laid out ambitious plans for the future of hydrogen, aiming to roll out millions of hydrogen-fueled vehicles and establish thousands of refueling stations by 2040.
Home to the world's most expansive automobile market and a significant focus on reducing air pollution, China sees a big future in hydrogen. Both its private sector and government are channeling funds into hydrogen infrastructure, production, and innovative research. China is proactively propelling its hydrogen vehicle landscape and infrastructure, with continued investments in groundbreaking research and pilot initiatives.
Middle Eastern countries
Some oil-rich countries, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are exploring hydrogen production as a way to diversify their energy exports and remain significant players in the global energy market in a post-oil world.
Though traditionally powered by coal, Australia is now leveraging its vast renewable energy reserves to champion green hydrogen production. With an eye on becoming a significant hydrogen exporter, particularly to Asian neighbors like Japan and South Korea, Australia is already embarking on pilot projects and forming collaborations to boost hydrogen development and adoption.
The UK Government aims to achieve 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, intended for widespread use across its economy. This capacity could generate hydrogen equating to the gas consumption of over 3 million UK households annually. To fulfill this aspiration, it is essential for the UK to swiftly escalate both the production and utilization of hydrogen within the next ten years.
Within all regions of the UK, pioneering projects are poised for large-scale deployment, promising carbon savings and job creation. These innovative initiatives will provide insights into hydrogen-related costs, its safety in novel applications, and its potential for emission reduction. In 2023, the UK’s hydrogen economy is at an early stage of development.
Germany's 'Energiewende' or energy transition initiative is a comprehensive strategy to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Central to this transformation is Germany's robust commitment to hydrogen. Through its 'National Hydrogen Strategy,' Germany has earmarked billions of euros for the research, production, and infrastructure of hydrogen. Viewing it as an essential technology to harness excess renewable energy and promote a carbon-neutral industrial sector, Germany aspires to lead the global hydrogen landscape, placing a particular focus on green hydrogen.
France has set aside funds for hydrogen production, particularly green hydrogen, as part of its broader push for a sustainable energy mix.
Norway and The Netherlands
Both these countries, given their North Sea resources, are looking at blue hydrogen (produced from natural gas with carbon capture) as a significant potential energy source and have made investments in this area.
European Union (EU)
Beyond individual European countries, the EU as a whole has incorporated hydrogen in its Green Deal and is funding research, innovation, and infrastructure related to clean hydrogen.
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Global Leadership in the Hydrogen Era: Policy, Resources, and Beyond
Factors that will determine the leaders in the hydrogen revolution include:
Policy support: Governments that support research, development, and deployment of hydrogen technologies with favorable policies, subsidies, and incentives.
Natural resources: Countries with abundant renewable energy (like wind or solar) can produce green hydrogen more efficiently.
Infrastructure development: Building the necessary infrastructure, like refueling stations and pipelines, will be crucial.
Market dynamics: Companies that innovate and commercialize hydrogen technologies will drive leadership in their respective countries.
However, the geopolitical and economic landscape can shift, and new technological advancements can emerge, making predictions subject to change.
Where to invest in Hydrogen?
These countries' focus on hydrogen derives from the growing realization that hydrogen can play a pivotal role in achieving net-zero emissions, especially in sectors where direct electrification is challenging. As global priorities shift towards cleaner energy solutions, more countries will likely intensify their hydrogen investments.
Recognizing the Leaders
Countries such as Canada, Japan, South Korea, and Germany are countries with hydrogen strategy goals already outlined, reflecting their commitment to a hydrogen-powered future. They offer a combination of mature markets, technological prowess, and government support, making them primary contenders for hydrogen investments.
While the likes of China and the United States are colossal markets, their hydrogen ecosystems are still evolving. This presents potential investors with both opportunities and challenges. Their sheer market size and increasing governmental support indicate a promising trajectory.
Research and development are pivotal to driving down costs and enhancement of hydrogen efficiency. Countries boasting strong R&D infrastructures, like the United Kingdom and France, may present lucrative investment opportunities, particularly in the innovation sector.
Infrastructure and Supply Chain
It's not just about producing hydrogen; transporting and storing it are equally critical. Investing in nations that are building robust hydrogen infrastructure, be it pipelines or refueling stations, could yield dividends. Australia, with its ambitions to export to Asian markets, is an example of a country gearing up its infrastructure.
While green hydrogen (derived from renewable sources) is the most sustainable form, blue hydrogen (from natural gas with carbon capture) and grey hydrogen (from natural gas without carbon capture) are still prevalent. Read about the spectrum of hydrogen colors.
Countries with vast natural gas reserves, like Norway and Russia, or abundant renewable energy, like New Zealand and Chile, can be focal points for diverse hydrogen production methods.
Keep an eye on the private sector. Companies at the cutting edge of hydrogen technology, from fuel cells to electrolyzers, can be potential game-changers. Their home countries often provide supportive ecosystems for these innovations to thrive.
Global Hydrogen ETFs
As an alternative to investing in individual hydrogen stocks, you could invest in an exchange-traded fund (ETF) with a hydrogen theme. Here are a few suggestions:
Global X Hydrogen ETF (NASDAQ: HYDR): An investment fund that tracks the performance of companies involved in the hydrogen industry, such as those involved in the production, storage, and distribution of hydrogen.
L&G Hydrogen Economy UCITS ETF USD Acc (LON: HTWG): Managed by Legal & General, this ETF provides exposure to the global hydrogen economy by tracking companies involved in the hydrogen production chain.
VanEck Hydrogen Economy UCITS ETF USD A (HDRO): A fund managed by VanEck that aims to track the performance of companies globally that are engaged in the hydrogen economy.
Global X Hydrogen UCITS ETF USD Acc (LON: HYGG): A variant of the Global X Hydrogen ETF that is designed to comply with UCITS regulations, which are European regulations for mutual funds.
Global X Disruptive Materials ETF (NASDAQ: DMAT): An investment fund that focuses on companies that are creating or producing disruptive materials. It's broader than just hydrogen, as it might include other novel or disruptive materials.
Invesco Hydrogen Economy UCITS ETF Acc (LON: HYDN): Managed by Invesco, this ETF seeks to track companies that are involved in the production and use of hydrogen and fuel cell products.
Global X Hydrogen ETF AUD (ASX: HGEN): HGEN invests in companies that are part of the growing hydrogen industry, including those making hydrogen, integrating it into energy systems, and creating technologies to use hydrogen as energy.
Direxion Hydrogen ETF (NYSEARCA: HJEN): Direxion is known for its leveraged and inverse ETFs. This hydrogen-focused ETF provides exposure to companies in the hydrogen industry.
Defiance Next Gen H2 ETF (NYSEARCA: HDRO): Managed by Defiance ETFs, this fund tracks companies in the hydrogen industry, emphasizing those that are perceived as being part of the "next generation" of hydrogen technologies.
Horizons Global Hydrogen Index ETF (TSE: HYDR): An ETF by Horizons that aims to replicate the performance of a hydrogen-focused index, giving investors exposure to global companies that are connected to the hydrogen industry.
It's important to note that the specifics, strategies, and components of each ETF might vary, and investors should always review the prospectus and other materials of the ETF before making investment decisions. Additionally, the performance of these ETFs will be influenced by the performance of the underlying holdings, which, given the early stage of the hydrogen economy, can be quite volatile.
The rising interest in countries that use hydrogen energy highlights the global push for cleaner energy. As nations prioritize eco-friendly solutions, hydrogen emerges as a key player. Investing in it is not just about tapping into an energy trend; it's about being part of a movement steering the world toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.
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