A few months back, Mian Mansha in an interview with BR Research declared that hydrogen is touted to be the future of mobility. He was alluding to the sizeable investment being made by Japan and Korea to make hydrogen the primary source of fuel for its automotive sector.

Mansha's Nishat Mills Limited has partnered with the South Korean Hyundai Group in Pakistan and plans on. Globally, the Hyundai Motor Group which includes both Kia and Hyundai released its FCEV Vision 2030 which aims to produce 500,000 hydrogen cars by 2030.

However, don't get expect hydrogen vehicles to enter the Pakistan market anytime soon. Global energy experts have mixed views about the hydrogen dream with many believing Japan and Korea's push for hydrogen vehicles is shackled by high costs and a lack of infrastructure.

Be that as it may, no one can discount the increasing role of hydrogen in global energy affairs. According to the International Energy Agency's (IEA) Executive Director Dr Birol, hydrogen is “ enjoying unprecedented momentum driven by governments that both import and export energy, as well as the renewables industry, electricity and gas utilities, automakers, oil and gas companies, major technology firms and big cities."

The data backs this up. A recently released report titled “The Future of Hydrogen" prepared by the IEA for the G20 and Japan shows that demand for hydrogen has seen a threefold increase since 1975 and is steadily rising.

Amongst potential uses, hydrogen can decarbonizes high emission sectors such as transport, chemicals as well as iron and steel helping in the so far losing battle against climate change. Another important area is helping out with the variable output from renewable energy including wind and solar energy. The IEA points out that hydrogen is one of the front-runners when it comes to options for storing energy from renewables and can become a low cost option for storing electricity over weeks and even months.

The Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has already declared his government's intention to reduce the production cost of hydrogen by almost 90 percent till 2050 with the eventual aim of making it cheaper than natural gas.

Ambitious targets aside, these are surely interesting times for hydrogen's place in the global value chain. While hydrogen powered cars are not coming to Pakistan anytime soon, there is a need for local energy policymakers and researchers to start discourse on a topic that is gaining increased traction in many countries around the world.