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Hydrogen Council launched in Davos as 13 major companies join to promote hydrogen

Thirteen leading energy, transport and industrial companies chose the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland to launch the 'Hydrogen Council', a global initiative that provides a united vision and long-term ambition for using hydrogen to foster the ‘energy transition’ to sustainable energy.

The Hydrogen Council – the first global initiative of its kind, but building on various national and regional programmes – aims to position hydrogen among the key solutions of the energy transition. The Council will work with – and provide recommendations to – key stakeholders such as policy makers, business and hydrogen players, international agencies, and wider society to achieve this goal.

Versatile, clean hydrogen energy

Hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier with favourable characteristics since it does not release any CO2 at the point of use as a clean fuel or energy source, and can play an important role in the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy system. Hydrogen technologies and products have significantly progressed in the last several years, and are now being introduced into a wide variety of markets around the world.

Accelerating investment in hydrogen energy

At the launch, members of the Hydrogen Council confirmed their ambition to accelerate their already significant investment in the development and commercialisation of the hydrogen and fuel cell sectors. These investments currently amount to an estimated total of €1.4 billion (US$1.5 billion) per annum, according to the Council’s inaugural report, and the 13 members already plan to boost this to €10 billion ($10.8 billion) over the next five years.

This acceleration will be possible if the key stakeholders increase their backing for hydrogen as part of the future energy mix, with appropriate policies and supporting schemes.

Major industry players

The Hydrogen Council currently comprises 13 CEOs and chairs from major industrial and energy companies that are committed to help achieve the ambitious goal of reaching the 2°C global warming target agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement (COP21) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The members of the Hydrogen Council collectively represent total revenues of €1.07 trillion ($1.15 trillion) and 1.72 million employees around the world.

The inaugural members are Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, BMW, Daimler, Engie, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Royal Dutch Shell, The Linde Group, Total, and Toyota Motor Corporation.

The Council is led by two co-chairs from different geographies and sectors – currently Benoît Potier, CEO of Air Liquide, and Takeshi Uchiyamada, chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation.

Co-chairs with Air Liquide and Toyota

‘The Hydrogen Council brings together some of the world’s leading industrial, automotive and energy companies with a clear ambition to explain why hydrogen emerges among the key solutions for the energy transition, in the mobility as well as in the power, industrial and residential sectors, and therefore requires the development of new strategies at a scale to support this,’ says Benoît Potier of Air Liquide.

‘But we cannot do it alone. We need governments to back hydrogen with actions of their own – for example through large-scale infrastructure investment schemes,’ continues Potier. ‘Our call today to world leaders is to commit to hydrogen, so that together we can meet our shared climate ambitions and give further traction to the emerging hydrogen ecosystem.’

‘The Hydrogen Council will exhibit responsible leadership in showcasing hydrogen technology and its benefits to the world,’ adds Takeshi Uchiyamada of Toyota. ‘It will seek collaboration, cooperation and understanding from governments, industry and most importantly, the public.’

‘At Toyota, we have always tried to play a leading role in environmental and technological advances in the automotive industry, including through the introduction of fuel cell vehicles,’ he continues. ‘Moreover, we know that in addition to transportation, hydrogen has the potential to support our transition to a low-carbon society across multiple industries and the entire value chain. The Hydrogen Council aims to actively encourage this transition.’

Hydrogen empowering the energy transition

A report commissioned by the Hydrogen Council, How hydrogen empowers the energy transition, gives further details on this future potential that hydrogen is ready to provide. It sets out the vision of the Council and the key actions it considers fundamental for policy makers to implement, to fully unlock and empower the contribution of hydrogen to the energy transition.

Recommendations to policy makers

The Hydrogen Council recommends the following actions to policy makers:

  1. Provide long-term and stable policy frameworks to guide the energy transition in all sectors (energy, transport, industry, and residential).
  2. Develop coordination and incentive policies to encourage early deployment of hydrogen solutions and sufficient private-sector investments.
  3. Facilitate harmonisation of industry standards across regions and sectors to enable hydrogen technologies and take advantage of scale effects and decrease costs.
  • In the transport sector, ensure strong coordination among governments (to give direction), car manufacturers (to produce and commercialise fuel cell electric vehicles, FCEVs), infrastructure providers (to invest in supply and distribution infrastructure), and consumers (to purchase FCEVs).
  • Ensure the energy market reforms effectively in terms of feed-in tariffs, curtailment management, seasonal balancing capacity remuneration and taxation, while taking into account the benefits that hydrogen can deliver to the energy system.
  • Provide financial instruments to leverage private investment with the support of public guarantees, to mitigate risk for early movers.

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Bioenergy  •  Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Energy storage including Fuel cells  •  Green building  •  Policy, investment and markets