Governments worldwide need to simplify rules around hydrogen supply to attract investment and scale it up to become competitive enough to substitute fossil fuel use in heavy industry, energy executives said this week.

Hydrogen as a potential alternative to natural gas, coal or oil burned in heavy industry or shipping is seen as key to reducing emissions in industries in which electrification is not practical. Hydrogen is often described by color and many in the industry call it a "rainbow renewable" but the most important color for executives at the conference was green — as in cash.

Hydrogen can be made in many ways, some cleaner than others. Among methods that produce what is known as green hydrogen is electrolysis, which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using power from renewables. Hydrogen can also be made from natural gas. When carbon emissions from the process are captured and stored, it is known as blue hydrogen.