The hydrogen economy: energy security, investment certainty and innovationBY FREDERICK DOOLEY

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Hydrogen is a clean and versatile energy carrier that is becoming increasingly important thanks to rapid progress in the production of green hydrogen, derived from renewable sources. However, there are still challenges to be faced, and further investment and research are needed to make this technology safe and widely usable. 


As an energy carrier, hydrogen has many technological advantages, such as emissions-free combustion and flexibility in production from renewable or fossil sources, making it a promising energy resource for the future with potential improvements in many industrial sectors.

Despite its advantages, the use of green hydrogen as an energy carrier is limited by both technological obstacles, such as low energy density, and by still limited infrastructure. Currently, most of the hydrogen produced comes from fossil sources, but hydrogen can be adopted in specific industrial sectors such as heavy industry.


The recent row between Spain, Germany, and France over the definition of renewable energy in European regulation highlights the differences between countries on how to approach the introduction of hydrogen. The construction of pipelines between Spain and Germany represents an opportunity for both countries to collaborate in this sector, but it has been seen by the French government as a threat to its own nuclear energy industry.

Considering the post-pandemic international situation, the war in Ukraine, and the independence from Russian natural gas supply, the search for alternative energy sources has become strategically critical; the hydrogen economy could, in many ways, represent a safe and reliable solution.


The development of the hydrogen economy still requires many technological developments, widespread infrastructure with greater capillarity, incentives, and government regulations that encourage companies to invest, in order to stimulate sustainable economic and industrial growth in an entrepreneurial ecosystem focused on innovation.

Above all, to take advantage of the hydrogen economy, it is necessary to make wise choices both in the short and long term and coordinate political and economic efforts at the European and Euro-Atlantic levels to address the challenges of energy security, innovation, and competition.


The recently introduced Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the United States, which provides almost $400 billion to reduce carbon emissions and accelerate the diffusion of alternative energy technologies, could, however, generate national and international trade conflicts due to the subsidies and national production requirements envisaged by the law, increasing the protectionist impulses already growing around the globe.

The hydrogen economy presents opportunities for sustainable and secure energy, but there are challenges that must be addressed, including limitations in technology and infrastructure, varying interests among different countries, and potential trade conflicts. A collaborative effort at the European and Euro-Atlantic levels is necessary, but it is important to approach the development of the hydrogen economy with a balanced and realistic perspective.

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