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The Evolution of Hydrogen: From the Big Bang to Fuel Cells

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It all started with a bang…the big bang!

The explosive power of hydrogen fueled a chain reaction that led to the world we have today.

Now this power is being deployed on Earth to supply the energy needs of tomorrow.

Visualizing the Power of Hydrogen

Today’s infographic comes to us from the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, and it outlines how hydrogen and fuel cell technology is harnessing the power of the universe to potentially fuel an energy revolution.

The Evolution of Hydrogen: From the Big Bang to Fuel Cells

What is Hydrogen, and How’s it Used?

With one proton and one electron, hydrogen sits at the very beginning of the periodic table.

Despite hydrogen being the most common molecule in the universe, it is rarely found in its elemental state here on Earth. In fact, almost all hydrogen on the planet is bonded to other elements and can only be released via chemical processes such as steam reforming or electrolysis.

There are five ways hydrogen is being used today:

  1. Building heat and power
  2. Energy storage and power generation
  3. Transportation
  4. Industry energy
  5. Industry feedstock

However, what really unleashes the power of hydrogen is fuel cell technology. A fuel cell converts the chemical power of hydrogen into electrical power.

Hydrogen Unleashed: The Fuel Cell

In the early 1960’s, NASA first deployed fuel cells to power the electrical components of the Gemini and Apollo space capsules. Since then, this technology has been deployed in everything from the vehicle you drive, the train you take, and how your favorite products are delivered to your doorstep.

Nations around the world are committing to build hydrogen fueling stations to meet the growth in adoption of fuel cell technology for transportation.

Hydrogen: A Green Energy Solution

Hydrogen fuel and fuel cell technology delivers green solutions in seven ways.

  1. Decarbonizing industrial energy use
  2. Acting as a buffer to increase energy system resilience
  3. Enabling large-scale renewable energy integration and power generation
  4. Decarbonizing transportation
  5. Decarbonizing building heat and power
  6. Distribution energy across sectors and regions
  7. Providing clean feedstock for industry

According to a recent report by McKinsey, hydrogen and fuel cell technology has the potential to remove six gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions and employ more than 30 million people by 2050, all while creating a $2.5-trillion market.

This is technology that can be deployed today, with the potential to transform how we live and power our economies in a sustainable way.

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Visualized: An Investor’s Carbon Footprint, by Sector

Which sectors are the largest contributors to emissions? From energy to tech, this graphic shows carbon emissions by sector in 2023.

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Visualized: An Investor’s Carbon Footprint, by Sector

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The following content is sponsored by MSCI
Visualized: An Investor’s Carbon Footprint, by Sector

Visualized: An Investor’s Carbon Footprint, by Sector

In the quest for a sustainable future, investors can play a crucial role in shaping our planet’s destiny.

Understanding the carbon emissions in different sectors is a key way to make environmentally and financially conscious decisions and help make a positive impact on the planet.

This infographic, sponsored by MSCI, looks at carbon emissions by sector.

Types of Carbon Emissions

Unsurprisingly, industries heavily reliant on fossil fuels and energy-intensive processes, like energy, materials, and industrials, have significant carbon footprints. In contrast, service-based and technology industries are traditionally less carbon-intensive.

To get an accurate picture of a sector/industry’s carbon footprint, it’s important to look up and down their value chain. Here is how policymakers categorize carbon emissions:

  1. Scope 1: Generated directly by the organization and within its control e.g., on-site fuel combustion and internal industrial processes.
  2. Scope 2: Indirect emissions from energy use, such as purchased electricity, heat, or cooling.
  3. Scope 3: Indirect emissions, but different from Scope 2 emissions. These are emissions that the company does not directly control such as the emissions produced from a supplier or emissions generated from the use of its sold product.

Only looking at all three scopes of emissions can we arrive at a complete picture of a sector’s carbon footprint.

Volume of Carbon Emissions, by Sector

The following table breaks down the greenhouse gas emissions for each sector by scope. A sector’s carbon footprint is expressed in metric tons of CO2 equivalent for every $1 million in financing.

In other words, here’s how much of a climate impact a one million dollar investment has in each of the following sectors.

The total figure represents the weighted average carbon emissions of each sector’s constituents as of August 10, 2023:

SectorScope 1
Scope 2
Scope 3
Total
Energy263.327.22827.53118.0
Materials298.482.81349.21730.4
Utilities461.416.0405.5883.0
Industrials32.68.3425.1466.0
Consumer
discretionary
5.09.0372.2386.2
Consumer staples16.512.4276.4305.3
Information
technology
2.05.879.387.1
Health care1.82.470.975.1
Financials4.01.158.363.4
Real estate1.45.946.854.0
Communication
services
0.64.740.545.8

Represented by tCO₂e/USD million EVIC. EVIC is the enterprise value including cash.

Understanding carbon footprint profiles can help investors evaluate the risks faced by carbon-intensive industries, such as future regulations and reputational challenges.

MSCI’s climate metrics empower investors to make responsible investments and drive meaningful change.

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Download MSCI’s Climate Metrics Report.

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