A group of engineering students debate what energy systems could look like in 2050 in a tiny room in Delft, the Netherlands. Students of international relations in Stavanger, Norway, ponder how the world order may change when everyone has access to renewable energy.
They are conducting a green policy simulation in which each represents a fictitious country coping with the energy transition and sets out how they would deliver it while balancing the interests of their inhabitants with those of the rest of the globe. Some imaginary countries rely on fossil fuels, while others are fortunate with an abundance of renewables.
It’s an effective tool for teaching the complexities of trade-offs in energy transitions and carbon reductions. How could the international order change if countries who aren’t recognized for producing or exporting renewable energy ended up dominating it?
Hydrogen, the current darling of the energy revolution, has migrated from the realm of engineering to the realm of politics. Governments all around the globe have already allocated more than USD 70 billion to boost the hydrogen sector.
Domestic production capacity, cost discrepancies between countries, and strategic reasons play a major role in influencing the global trade of renewable energy.
Consider mature countries who do not wish to rely on power from their neighbours: hydrogen imports might provide the strategic diversity they seek. Simply said, hydrogen enables more flexible trading over longer distances.
We wouldn’t be talking about hydrogen as much if the world didn’t have so little time to avert global warming and climate change. And, at least in Europe, the electricity required to produce hydrogen via electrolysis, which is not economically viable, must compete with electricity used for power generation.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that as nations shift to sustainable energy, oil and gas-based economies might lose USD7 trillion by 2040. Hydrogen might provide a lifeline for them to expand their business strategy.
Most countries are now fossil fuel importers, which means they will miss out on the opportunity to be sustainable energy exporters and will continue to be importers.