Global demand for hydrogen is projected to increase over 4 percent annually through 2016 to 286 billion cubic meters valued at $43.2 billion. The primary driver of this growth will be the petroleum refining industry, whose hydrogen consumption is spurred mainly by the production of low-sulfur, cleaner burning fuels. Though approximately 90 percent of this consumed hydrogen is captive production liberated by oil refining processes, the balance is merchant hydrogen, usually generated by steam methane reformers. These and other trends, including market share and product segmentation, are presented in World Hydrogen, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.
Various countries and regions around the world have legislated carbon dioxide emission limits from the burning of hydrocarbon fuels. These are generally becoming more stringent, and as they are enacted and enforced, additional hydrogen is needed to hydrotreat petroleum to yield cleaner fuels that meet emission regulations. Also adding to hydrogen demand is the fact that the quality of crude oil feedstocks is gradually declining, leaving higher sulfur crudes that require more hydrogen to be refined. Most of the resulting incremental demand for hydrogen will be met by merchant suppliers, and the merchant share (by volume) of the refinery hydrogen market is expected to increase from nine percent in 2011 to 10.5 percent in 2016.
Chemical manufacturing is the second largest consumer of hydrogen. Some hydrogen used by chemical and petrochemical producers is generated from process off-gas, though most is supplied by dedicated on-site hydrogen plants or purchased from merchant suppliers.
Whereas North America led the world in hydrogen consumption in 2006, rapid growth of many national economies in Asia -- especially those of China and India -- made the Asia/Pacific region the world’s largest hydrogen consumer in 2011. Western Europe is third among the world’s hydrogen consumers. Hydrogen consumption in Central and South America will be led by Brazil; in Eastern Europe by the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Poland; and in the Africa/Mideast region by the oil-rich economies of Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The Freedonia Group is a leading international business research company, founded in 1985, that publishes more than 100 industry research studies annually. This industry analysis provides an unbiased outlook and a reliable assessment of an industry and includes product segmentation and demand forecasts, industry trends, demand history, threats and opportunities, competitive strategies, market share determinations and company profiles.