United States , Mexico and China

Is Latin America at risk of missing the clean hydrogen train?

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, December 01, 2021
Is Latin America at risk of missing the clean hydrogen train?

Latin American countries must accelerate plans for clean hydrogen to avoid falling behind the rest of the world in the burgeoning sector, according to an expert. 

Despite high levels of renewable electrolysis potential in the region, only Chile and Colombia have developed concrete strategies, said Arthur Deakin, the co-director of energy at Americas Market Intelligence.

"Chile is a powerful example to other countries in Latin America because they launched their strategy in a very quick way," Deakin said during Vostock Capital's Hydrogen Latin America Congress in Bogotá.  

"I think that many neighboring countries and other countries in the world spend a lot of time discussing laws ... to draft a bullet proof plan. That's not good because it only delays the launch of the strategy and many times the countries are left behind others that are already attracting investors and are gathering years of experience."

"The idea should be to launch a strategy in a faster way. It might have some errors but they can be fixed along the way. There are a lot of challenges but continuity is key," Deakin said.

According to Deakin, Latin America is home to only eight of the world's 359 existing hydrogen projects, most of which are shared between China and Europe. After a slow start, the US is beginning to make up ground under the administration of President Joe Biden, he added. 

Deakin warned that Latin American nations such as Brazil, Peru, Mexico and Argentina risked losing a vital competitive edge. 

"In terms of national strategies only Chile has a concrete strategy that they launched last year, and Colombia recently published a roadmap," he said.

"Private associations in Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Mexico are discussing how to implement and foster hydrogen projects but no laws or regulations have been implemented yet."

Panelists during the event agreed that hydrogen is not yet competitive for use in fuel cell cars and heating systems. However, Deakin argued it already made economic sense to use the technology for applications such as the production of chemicals, aviation fuel and glass manufacturing. 

He named Bloom Energy, GE, the New York Power Authority, BP and Daimler as entities that are playing a pioneering role in global hydrogen development.

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