Colombia’s Hydrogen Potential & Opportunities for Shipping

September 22 2023

Colombia stands to benefit from international shipping’s shift to scalable zero-emission fuels due to its low potential cost for producing green hydrogen, access to two oceans and ability to leverage renewable energy resources. Although projects focusing on green hydrogen are already emerging in the country, few of these relate to zero-carbon marine fuels, which puts Colombia at risk of missing out on a major growth opportunity.

The maritime industry has a strong dependence on fossil fuels, resulting in significant emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and air pollutants. The development of sustainable and environmentally friendly scalable zero-emission fuels (SZEF) and the necessary infrastructure for their production are key to reducing the sector’s environmental impact. Substantial amounts of renewable energy will be needed for the maritime sector to fully decarbonise and contribute towards meeting global climate objectives.

The Opportunity

By leveraging the vast untapped energy potential in solar and wind, Colombia has the opportunity to develop new products including green hydrogen and its derivatives. This opportunity brings with it several benefits to local industries and the national economy.

Three key opportunities include:

  • The domestic use of renewable energy and hydrogen

Green hydrogen has the potential to help Colombia’s hard-to-abate sectors decarbonise. In addition to shipping, Colombia’s hard-to-abate sectors include cement, mining, and steel, all of which stand to benefit from increased domestic production of green hydrogen to meet their energy needs.

  • Hydrogen as a marine bunker fuel for international shipping

Colombia will need to prepare to supply SZEF to ships that bunker at its ports. This will require infrastructure solutions for SZEF storage as well as upskilling and training the ports’ employees to handle such fuels.

Ports such as Cartagena benefit from their proximity to the Panama Canal and location near vast renewable energy resources. This can be leveraged for the bunkering of ships waiting to enter the canal or as fuel provided directly to Panama, highlighting Colombia’s potential to become a hydrogen logistics hub, supplying nearby countries by both sea and land.

  • The country’s export of hydrogen and/or SZEF as a commodity.

Colombia is among the top countries when it comes to the projected levelised cost of hydrogen in 2050. Levelised cost of hydrogen is a financial metric that is used to assess the cost of producing hydrogen over its entire lifecycle. As countries around the world seek to reduce their domestic GHG emissions, there is an opportunity to export green hydrogen to regions unable to produce a sufficient amount of green hydrogen themselves, such as Europe and Asia (among others). Colombia could engage in discussions with key trading partners to explore demand for the trade of green hydrogen.

Read full insight brief in English here.

Read full insight brief in Spanish here.


The views expressed in this Insight are those of the author alone and not necessarily those of the Global Maritime Forum. Excerpts may be published with reference to the Global Maritime Forum.

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