Global demand for hydrogen is forecast to expand 4.1 percent per annum through 2016 to 286 billion cubic meters valued at $43.2 billion. Growth in hydrogen demand will benefit from strong activity in the petroleum sector, its principal consumer, where increasing demand for low sulfur fuels in response to stricter environmental regulations will increase the amount of hydrogen required to produce them. Favorable demand fundamentals for hydrogen also exist in chemical manufacturing applications, and production of semiconductors, float glass, metal components and food processing.
Petroleum refineries around the world are consuming greater quantities of hydrogen and this represents the most significant opportunity to merchant suppliers of the gas. Of the 52.3 billion cubic meters of overall demand growth in hydrogen by 2016, 35 percent will be met by merchant suppliers. Merchant and on-purpose hydrogen generated by oil refineries will still account for 78 percent of worldwide hydrogen consumption in 2016. Nonrefinery applications for hydrogen combined for 21 percent of total consumption in 2011. Of this, chemical manufacturing exclusive of ammonia and methanol production) accounted for 12 percent; the remaining 9 percent was accounted for by other manufacturing processes and non-manufacturing applications. Nonchemical manufacturing industries that use hydrogen include float glass, metal components, semiconductors, and food processing.
The rapid growth of many economies in the Asia/Pacific region -- especially those of China and India -- will make this region the world's largest hydrogen consumer by 2013. Western Europe is third among the world's hydrogen consumers. In the Central and South American region, above average growth in hydrogen consumption will be led by the Brazilian economy; in Eastern Europe the economies of Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Romania will lead the region in hydrogen gains; and growth in the Africa/Mideast region will be led by the oil-rich economies of Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as the growing industrialized economies of South Africa and Turkey.
The phrase "hydrogen economy" refers to programs or initiatives aimed at using hydrogen as an energy carrier to replace hydrocarbon fuels and reduce emissions produced by their consumption. Technologies such as fuel cells developed for cars, buses, power generation and other applications, along with the infrastructural implications of their broad and increasing use, are being demonstrated in many countries around the world. Although the market impact of global, massive deployment of the hydrogen economy on hydrogen demand is beyond the time horizon of this report, activities related to the hydrogen economy are covered on a country by country basis, where applicable.
Details on these and other findings are contained in the upcoming Freedonia industry study, World Hydrogen, presents historical demand data (2001, 2006 and 2011) plus forecasts for 2016 and 2021 by application, source (captive, merchant), market, world region, and for 17 countries. The study also considers key market environment factors, evaluates company market share, and profiles global industry competitors, including Air Liquide, Air Products and Chemicals, Linde Group, and Praxair.