Shell is one of the Hydrogen Council's 13 founding members. Here, Anna Mascolo, Executive Vice President of Emerging Energy Solutions, answers our questions.
March 10, 2023
Shell was one of 13 founding members of the Hydrogen Council when the global CEO-led initiative was created in 2017. Why did Shell want to be a part of the Hydrogen Council?
Shell’s target is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 and hydrogen has an important role to play in achieving that goal. We have an ambition to help build a global hydrogen economy by developing opportunities in the production, storage, transport, and delivery of hydrogen to end customers. It would require investment on a massive scale but also a deep and well-synchronised collaboration between all parties involved.
The Hydrogen Council is the first initiative of its kind in the world – and one of its purposes is to foster this kind of global collaboration. That is why Shell wanted to be a part of and is now actively contributing to the Hydrogen Council. Hydrogen is not only an important business for Shell but also one of the key solutions available for the world to reach net zero.
Shell’s been around for more than 110 years. What advantages does this longevity bring to decarbonising transport and deploying hydrogen solutions?
Shell has experience in the energy industry, technical capability to innovate and scale to invest, collaborate and drive change in energy demand. As a global energy company, Shell has championed value-chain thinking for decades. Understanding how elements of a hydrogen value-chain come together gives insight into the specific actions and investments required, but also the many hurdles to overcome to successfully realise a global hydrogen ecosystem.
We work with partners to build decarbonised hydrogen hubs, with the first ones in the Netherlands and Germany underway. The hydrogen hubs are expected to enable the expansion of the hydrogen industry to create regional clusters and establish a broader international hydrogen network, once sufficient demand and infrastructure are in place. Our advantage is that we can connect multiple parts of our business – let’s use producing hydrogen from renewables as an example. Shell has the capability to integrate renewable power generation such as offshore wind, with hydrogen production using electrolysis, creating a supply that can be used in our own refinery assets as well as by third party customers and the retail network.
Decades ago, Shell was at the forefront of developing liquefied natural gas (LNG). When we started, demand for LNG had yet to mature. Today, the same goes for hydrogen demand, but we cannot wait decades for this to happen. Now is the time to be at the forefront of the development, take bold and decisive actions and scale up adequately to decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors.
Shell took the final investment decision (FID) to build Holland Hydrogen I earlier this year, which will be Europe’s largest renewable hydrogen plant once operational in 2025. Tell us about this project?
In July we took a bold, final investment decision, and together with our 150 partners started building a 200MW electrolyser, Holland Hydrogen I. Once operational in 2025, it will be the largest of its kind in Europe and it will transform wind power from the North Sea into hydrogen. Just to put it into perspective, the total electrolyser capacity deployed across the world at the time of taking a final investment decision was around 300MW.
Holland Hydrogen I is a milestone and an exciting project that will take us a big step further in delivering hydrogen at scale. To get there, we’re working closely with those who are, for example, building commercial hydrogen trucks, and those who are building the infrastructure that will connect supply with demand.
The Hydrogen Council’s Hydrogen Insights 2022 report highlighted a substantial uptake in hydrogen project announcements with industry, investors and governments needing to take the next step and quickly ramp up FIDs in order to jump start project construction and operations as quickly as possible.
Having taken FID on Holland Hydrogen I in 2022, what needs to happen to see other projects taking that next step?
Sanctioning Holland Hydrogen I project while the rest of the hydrogen economy is still developing took some resolve. It demonstrates the action and collaboration required on a global scale to grow the hydrogen economy.
Achieving rapid, affordable scale-up of decarbonised hydrogen production requires policy support from governments to enable hydrogen to compete with existing fuels. Advanced policy measures will enable investments in projects that will pave the way for the long-term cost-competitiveness of renewable and decarbonised hydrogen – driving technology and efficiency improvements, and giving consumers confidence in hydrogen as a long-term fuelling option.
Meanwhile, coordination among public and private organisations at local, national, and international levels is needed to ensure that supply and demand for decarbonised hydrogen grow together, alongside supporting infrastructure, like hydrogen pipelines for transportation, CCS technologies and production facilities.
It requires collaboration on an unprecedented scale and governments to introduce ambitious policies and incentivise, businesses to take actions, and consumers to seek and embrace low carbon choices. All of us pulling in the same direction and at the same time can make a massive difference in developing emerging energy solutions such as hydrogen and move us forward in the energy transition.
What does the gas station of the future look like to Shell?
When we think about the future, it is really about the evolving needs of our customers as their journeys continue to change rapidly throughout the energy transition. Shell is the world’s largest mobility retailer, by number of sites, with around 46,000 service stations worldwide. We work with millions of customers and offer a wide range of products and services. Listening and collaborating with our customers is at the heart of our strategy as we’re heading towards a world where cars, trucks or commercial buses will use a mosaic of fuels rather than a single type. That’s why we’re developing a range of lower carbon fuels and growing the number of our hydrogen refuelling stations and electric charging points – to help customers respond flexibly to the challenge of decarbonisation.
Hydrogen is one of the solutions that plays an important role in decarbonising road transport, such as heavy-duty vehicles. Shell has about 50 hydrogen refuelling stations and earlier this year opened its first public hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) for trucks in the Netherlands. The HRS Emmen at the GZI Next green energy hub, located in the northeast of the country, is part of a European hydrogen network for heavy-duty road transport. This will enable the (inter)national transport sector to become more sustainable, faster. And in 2021, Shell opened the first hydrogen refuelling station for regional bus traffic, together with partners for bus operator Qbuzz in Groningen.
We recognize that the path to a cleaner energy future will take different routes and move at different speeds, in different parts of the world. The way we develop our sites in the future is part of our evolving offer that will help to decarbonise road transport.
About The Hydrogen Council
The Hydrogen Council is a global CEO-led initiative that brings together leading companies with a united vision and long-term ambition for hydrogen to foster the clean energy transition. The Council believes that hydrogen has a key role to play in reaching our global decarbonization goals by helping to diversify energy sources worldwide, foster business and technological innovation as drivers for long-term economic growth, and decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors.
Using its global reach to promote collaboration between governments, industry and investors, the Council provides guidance on accelerating the deployment of hydrogen solutions around the world. It also acts as a business marketplace, bringing together a diverse group of 140+ companies based in 20+ countries across the entire hydrogen value chain, including large multinationals, innovative SMEs, and investors.
The Hydrogen Council also serves as a resource for safety standards and an interlocutor for the investment community, while identifying opportunities for regulatory advocacy in key geographies.
The Hydrogen Council s delighted to announce Topsoe as its newest Board Member. At the same time, the Council is pleased to share that Yoshinori Kanehana, Chairman of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., has extended his Co-Chair term.
The global hydrogen economy is growing despite global headwinds resulting from rising interest rates and constrained supply chains, according to an analysis of over 1,400 large hydrogen projects published today by the Hydrogen Council.
Alongside the vital climate benefits and cost-efficiency gains, a truly global hydrogen economy can provide meaningful contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) both in emerging markets and in developed countries, fostering just transition, boosting sustainable growth, and providing clean jobs.