More than 20 countries, led by Japan, have agreed to boost output of low-emission hydrogen to at least 90 million tonnes a year by 2030 from 1 million tonnes now, the Japanese industry ministry said on Monday.
The agreement between countries including the United States, Australia and Germany came at the Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo.
Many countries, including resource-poor Japan, are facing a historic energy security risk following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, with the threat of gas supply disruptions at a time when global supply is tight and spot prices are sky-high.
"We believe strategically increasing the sustainable production and use of low carbon and renewable hydrogen can contribute significantly to ensuring energy security, resilience and climate goals," Tokyo said, without giving details of how the output goal could be reached other than to note the need for more countries and regions to take concrete measures to increase sustainable hydrogen production.
Hydrogen is seen as the future green fuel of choice and key to decarbonising industries that rely on coal, gas and oil - such as steel and chemicals - in turn helping in the fight against global warming. It is also key to Japan's goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The global goal of producing 90 million tonnes of blue hydrogen - produced from natural gas but eliminating emissions by capturing and storing the emitted carbon - and green hydrogen - extracted from water using electrolysis powered by renewable energy - a year by 2030 is slightly below the 95 million tonnes that the International Energy Agency (IEA) says is required over the same time frame to help achieve its 2050 net zero scenario.
"Greater policy support is needed to drive new and cleaner uses of (hydrogen) in heavy industry and long-distance transport," the IEA said in a recent report.
Japan aims to boost its annual hydrogen supply, including imports, to 3 million tonnes by 2030 from about 2 million now.