A former Shell executive and a veteran fund manager and former Exxon figure are launching a hydrogen-focused investment fund to great fanfare as governments the world over shift strategy to this clean fuel source that until now hasn’t managed to break the investment barrier. 

Times change, though–and a global pandemic is helping. 

Former Shell executive JJ Traynor and former Artemis fund manager and Exxon employee Richard Hulf plan to launch HydrogenOne Capital sometime this year. The aim of the first-of-its-kind fund is to create a team dedicated to turning abruptly growing interest in hydrogen into investment dollars, Traynor told Reuters

Hydrogen has multiple uses, including as a feedstock, a fuel, an energy carrier, or an energy storage solution. It also has multiple applications across industry, transport, power, and buildings sectors, according to a European Commission report

What makes it hugely important for Europe’s 2050 climate neutrality goal is the fact that it does not emit CO2 and does not pollute the air. 

Despite all of this, for four decades, hydrogen power has been languishing on the market due to a line-up of technical issues and high-cost hurdles. While battery power has soared thanks primarily to Tesla EVs, hydrogen-powered fuel cell EVs haven’t made much progress.  

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, new energy tech is hurtling forward faster than anyone expected, and hydrogen is emerging into the mainstream rather suddenly, with experts saying it has finally reached that point where its path to becoming a globally traded energy source is visible.  Related: Russia Eyes Another Massive Gas Pipeline To China

A host of countries are now committing billions of dollars to clean hydrogen to combat climate change. 

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The new fund is just the latest in a series of moves towards hydrogen lately. 

Germany, which has recently committed to invest €9B (about $10.2B) in hydrogen technology over the next two decades, and oil, automotive, and other companies are joining the ranks of those who are proactively investing in hydrogen technologies

Earlier this week, the European Commission opened a $1.1-billion call for the funding of large-scale renewables projects, including clean hydrogen. 

“The EU will invest Eur1 billion in promising, market-ready projects such as clean hydrogen or other low-carbon solutions for energy-intensive industries like steel, cement and chemicals,” S&P Global cited EC Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans as saying. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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