Producers of green and blue hydrogen might not need subsidies as soon as 2030, depending on the final product, according to a new report from global consultancy Deloitte.

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As costs come down, Deloitte said, the so-called “breakeven point” — when projects can start becoming profitable without government support — will come in 2030 for ammonia, and 2035 for gaseous hydrogen.

But developers making methanol and sustainable aviation fuels will need to be supported until 2045 and 2050 respectively, says the report, Green Hydrogen: Energising the Path to Net Zero, which was published yesterday (Tuesday).

The consultancy adds that green hydrogen can dominate the H2 market from the start, reaching an 85% share by 2050, while blue hydrogen peaks in 2040 at 125 million tonnes, a 30% share of the global market.

In total, Deloitte expects global demand for hydrogen to reach 170 million tonnes by 2030 (up from around 100 million tonnes today), rising to 600 million tonnes by 2050, with revenues ballooning to $1.4trn by mid-century.

Four regions of the world are set to monopolise the international export of hydrogen and its derivatives — with another five regions, including China, dependent on H2 imports all the way to 2050 — the report says.

North Africa could have 44 million tonnes more hydrogen production than domestic demand by mid-century, followed by North America (24 million tonnes), Australia (16 million tonnes) and the Middle East (13 million tonnes).

Unsurprisingly, Japan and South Korea can be expected to rely on imports for 90% of their hydrogen demand, but the balance of trade also falls against three regions of the world expected to be large producers of H2 in their own right: Europe, China and India.

Europe is targeting ten million tonnes of domestic green H2 production by 2030, while India plans to become energy independent by 2045. China has a short-term target of 200,000 tonnes of domestic green hydrogen production by 2025, but is widely expected to be one of the world’s most significant producers and consumers of renewable H2.

Which sectors would use all this hydrogen?

Hydrogen demand is set to be dominated by industry (iron and steelmaking, chemicals, cement and high temperature heat) and heavy transport (shipping, aviation and heavy trucking), Deloitte said.

However, most of the demand in the coming years — around 95 million tonnes — will come from existing sectors decarbonising, especially in the fertiliser sector, a finding that resonates with analysis from Rystad Energy revealing that today’s firm clean hydrogen supply contracts are dominated by existing industrial players hoping to switch from grey H2.

In total, the consultancy estimates that by 2050 around 78% of the global supply will be heading to industry and transport, taking 42% and 36% shares, respectively.

The remaining 22% — minus 1% going to the heating of buildings — will be used in the power sector for grid balancing and storage purposes.