In the UK, Johnson Matthey, the global science and chemicals company, sees PEM electrolysers as a growth area, too. It has recently announced it is increasing capacity at its Swindon plant to enable it to produce enough platinum and iridium catalyst-coated membranes for tens of megawatts of hydrogen production, enough to power several thousand homes. Its roadmap for the future envisages scaling to multi-gigawatt manufacturing capacity in line with customer demand.
Growing market for platinum
It is now estimated that green hydrogen could supply up to 25 per cent of the world’s energy needs and become a US$10 trillion addressable market by 2050. These projections are underpinned by the recent emergence of strong green hydrogen-focused national hydrogen strategies, including those announced by Australia, Chile, Germany, the EU, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and South Korea. The USA re-joining the Paris Climate agreement should also bolster momentum and accelerate hydrogen adoption.
The rapid growth of the PEM electrolysis market clearly has the potential to benefit platinum demand, albeit modestly in the short- to medium-term. What is more, expansion of hydrogen production capacity and associated infrastructure will facilitate the adoption of PEM fuel cell electric vehicles. The combined impact on platinum demand as these two PEM technologies take off will be significant over the longer term.