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An inside look at blue hydrogen

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Hydrogen Review,

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has urged governments and companies to “seize the opportunity” presented by hydrogen as momentum behind this clean-burning fuel reaches unprecedented levels. More than 35 governments have, or are working towards, national hydrogen strategies, which reflects the potential for low-carbon hydrogen to significantly reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while contributing to energy security.

By 2050, low-carbon hydrogen is forecast to supply as much as 10% of all final energy consumption around the world.1 However, most current hydrogen production processes emit large quantities of CO2. That being said, hydrogen production does not have to be carbon intensive – a fact that is growing in importance as demand for low and zero-carbon hydrogen intensifies.

In 2020, Shell launched the Shell Blue Hydrogen Process (SBHP) which enables hydrogen to be produced from a variety of fossil fuel and renewable feedstocks with an almost 100% carbon capture rate, and offers many advantages over conventional hydrogen production and carbon capture technologies. 18 months on, the organisation has learned a great deal from the first wave of blue hydrogen projects.

This article will share what Shell has discovered to help advance this fast-moving and growing decarbonisation solution. The organisation has gleaned insights from more than 50 projects around the world to determine where the blue hydrogen market sits today, and how its technology can further advance low-carbon hydrogen production.

The hydrogen market

Demand for hydrogen is accelerating, driven by stronger national-level commitments to decarbonise energy systems, and by industrial actors seeking to align themselves with increasingly strict greenhouse gas (GHG) emission regulations.

Today, the IEA estimates that the annual demand for hydrogen is approximately 90 million t; by 2030, this figure is forecast to reach around 200 million t, and over 500 million t by 2050.

Meeting this demand will require an unparalleled transformation of how hydrogen is produced. Currently, most hydrogen is grey, and produced by converting natural gas into hydrogen and unabated CO2 by the steam methane reforming (SMR) process. However, this process is carbon intensive and is, according to the IEA, responsible for as much as 900 million tpy of CO2 emissions.2 As such, the energy industry cannot simply expand current grey hydrogen production if it is serious about achieving deep decarbonisation. Instead, it must rapidly transition to cleaner methods of hydrogen production, such as green and blue hydrogen (or even pink, purple, red, turquoise or yellow hydrogen – a full spectrum of hydrogen technologies that warrants an article of its own) ...

Written by Pavan Chilukuri, Shell Catalysts & Technologies, the Netherlands.


1. ‘The future of hydrogen: Seizing today’s opportunities’, IEA, (2019),

2. ‘IEA Global Hydrogen Review 2021’, IEA, (2021),

This article was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of Global Hydrogen Review magazine. To read the full article, simply follow this link.

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