How renewable hydrogen might reshape energy geopolitics

According to a new report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the transition of the global energy system away from fossil fuels and toward renewable hydrogen could result in a significant reassessment of geopolitical relationships, potentially supporting the emergence of new global powers.

Similarly to how fossil fuel resources have long had an impact on geopolitical developments, the latest IRENA assessment suggests that an emerging hydrogen industry could reconfigure international economic and political relationships, potentially introducing new members into the world  energy market and transforming the roles of current energy market powers.

Renewable hydrogen may be a far greater focus of international commerce than fossil fuels, with as much as 30% of global hydrogen output exchanged across borders by 2050 – a significantly higher percentage than fossil gas, it is noted in the study.

This might be driven by nations wishing to join the global hydrogen market, either as a producer or consumer of the fuel, as well as those who have never engaged in international commerce for fossil fuels.

Australia, for example,  is among a group of nations that have the capacity to create hydrogen at cheap cost and in quantities that are expected to much surpass their own domestic demands, and hence have a high potential to become prominent hydrogen exporters, says IRENA’s report.

According to the IRENA research, “experts estimate that Australia, Chile, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United States are best positioned to emerge as significant clean hydrogen producers by 2050.”

According to IRENA, since green hydrogen can be generated everywhere, it might lead to fewer resource-related conflicts.

The potential advantages of a worldwide transition to hydrogen, such as improved international partnerships, are likely to be contingent on the creation of a green hydrogen economy, while fossil hydrogen is likely to perpetuate the dynamics of conventional fossil fuels like oil and gas, the report says.