New WBCSD Guide to Reducing the Full Lifecycle Emissions of Hydrogen Production

World Business Council WBCSD Hydrogen

(Credit: The World Business Council for Sustainable Development)

by | Feb 13, 2023

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World Business Council WBCSD Hydrogen

(Credit: The World Business Council for Sustainable Development)

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a global organization that brings together over 200 international companies to advance sustainable business practices. They have recently released a guide for companies to reduce the full lifecycle emissions of hydrogen production with the goal of achieving net zero emissions.

WBCSD’s guide demands companies making hydrogen investments and their business partners add “alignment with 1.5°C criteria” to their investment decision processes and is the result of a collaborative effort involving 18 of WBCSD member companies. The publication is intended to help design the infrastructure, including the necessary technologies, policies, incentives, and business plans that will lead the hydrogen economy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and support the energy systems’ transition to an increasingly lower dependency on fossil fuels.

Harry Brekelmans, Project and Technology Director, Executive Committee member at Shell: “WBCSD’s report on how to align hydrogen investments with a 1.5 pathway sets an ambitious and pragmatic way forward for us all to reduce the full lifecycle emissions of hydrogen production towards net zero. This is paramount for hydrogen to deliver its vital role in the future energy system. At Shell, we are committed to being a net-zero company by 2050 and are actively investing in hydrogen, such as at our Rheinland refinery or Holland Hydrogen I. We are considering how to include the proposed 1.5 aligned criteria in our decision-making process for hydrogen investments. We also recognize that the energy transition will require different solutions through 2050 and across various geographies. We thank WBCSD and all the member companies who shaped this report for such a clear and practical piece of

The new guide outlines three criteria that companies can use in their investment decisions to ensure that hydrogen projects are aligned with the Paris Agreement 1.5° C climate target:

  • A rate of decarbonization (of lifecycle emissions associated with hydrogen) in line with the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Net Zero Emissions scenario curve, reaching net-zero lifecycle carbon emissions in 2050;
  • Using hydrogen to decarbonize sectors where alternatives are not available, ill-suited to the use, or less efficient;
  • Respecting two redlines for natural (fossil) gas-based hydrogen – no reliance on new (meaning greenfield) fossil fuel exploration or fossil fuel subsidies. To put these criteria into practice, WBCSD recommends businesses take the following actions:
    • Map how they can reduce the full lifecycle carbon intensity (CI) of their hydrogen investments over time to reach net-zero carbon emissions in 2050 and plan to invest in those CI reduction measures throughout the life cycle of their projects;
    • Decarbonize existing grey hydrogen units in line with the global decarbonization required to
      meet a 1.5°C scenario;
    • Deploy new hydrogen production with the lowest possible carbon intensity as a starting
    • Respect IEA and WBCSD’s redlines for blue hydrogen;
    • Invest in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction measures to ensure those investments
      have net-zero carbon emissions in 2050.

About the WBCSD

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a global organization made up of over 200 companies from 35 countries. It was founded in 1995 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WBCSD’s mission is to promote sustainable development and encourage companies to adopt sustainable business practices. The WBCSD provides a platform for companies to work together and share best practices, knowledge, and resources to create a more sustainable future. The organization is also committed to promoting sustainable development in the wider world and works with governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders to create a sustainable future for all. The WBCSD is a member of the United Nations Global Compact and is recognized as a leader in sustainable development.

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