On the climate impacts of blue hydrogen production

Christian Bauer, Karin Treyer, Cristina Antonini, Joule Bergerson, Matteo Gazzani, Emre Gencer, Jon Gibbins, Marco Mazzotti, Sean T. McCoy, Russell McKenna, Robert Pietzcker, Arvind P. Ravikumar, Matteo C. Romano, Falko Ueckerdt, Jaap Vente, Mijndert van der Spek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Natural gas based hydrogen production with carbon capture and storage is referred to asblue hydrogen. If substantial amounts of CO2from 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 CO2removal rate at the hydrogen production plant, and the global warming metric applied. State-of-the-art reforming with high CO2capture 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 hydrogeniscompatible 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 CO2removal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-75
Number of pages10
JournalSustainable Energy and Fuels
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2022

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