Issue 1, 2022

On the climate impacts of blue hydrogen production


Natural gas based hydrogen production with carbon capture and storage is referred to as blue hydrogen. If substantial amounts of CO2 from natural gas reforming are captured and permanently stored, such hydrogen could be a low-carbon energy carrier. However, recent research raises questions about the effective climate impacts of blue hydrogen from a life cycle perspective. Our analysis sheds light on the relevant issues and provides a balanced perspective on the impacts on climate change associated with blue hydrogen. We show that such impacts may indeed vary over large ranges and depend on only a few key parameters: the methane emission rate of the natural gas supply chain, the CO2 removal rate at the hydrogen production plant, and the global warming metric applied. State-of-the-art reforming with high CO2 capture rates combined with natural gas supply featuring low methane emissions does indeed allow for substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to both conventional natural gas reforming and direct combustion of natural gas. Under such conditions, blue hydrogen is compatible with low-carbon economies and exhibits climate change impacts at the upper end of the range of those caused by hydrogen production from renewable-based electricity. However, neither current blue nor green hydrogen production pathways render fully “net-zero” hydrogen without additional CO2 removal.

Graphical abstract: On the climate impacts of blue hydrogen production

Article information

Article type
24 Sep 2021
19 Nov 2021
First published
19 Nov 2021
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Sustainable Energy Fuels, 2022,6, 66-75

On the climate impacts of blue hydrogen production

C. Bauer, K. Treyer, C. Antonini, J. Bergerson, M. Gazzani, E. Gencer, J. Gibbins, M. Mazzotti, S. T. McCoy, R. McKenna, R. Pietzcker, A. P. Ravikumar, M. C. Romano, F. Ueckerdt, J. Vente and M. van der Spek, Sustainable Energy Fuels, 2022, 6, 66 DOI: 10.1039/D1SE01508G

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