As countries seek to reduce GHG emissions to reach the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, hydrogen fuel is emerging as a key technology.

Hydrogen is already an integral part of the refining and chemicals industry and has the potential to make a significant contribution to the transition to clean energy. Companies  are developing hydrogen powered cars and researching hydrogen-fuelled ships, the emergence of prototype hydrogen-boilers are seen as the future of residential heating , and hydrogen has the potential to help with variable output from renewables. With its range of potential uses, hydrogen could have a real impact on combating climate change, however, it is not without its limitations.

With 95% of current hydrogen production being fossil-fuel based, hydrogen production is responsible for CO2 emissions of around 830 million tonnes per year. There is a move towards greener hydrogen (such as that which is produced using water instead of fossil fuels) but costs remain challenging and further research and investment is needed to lower cost and improve its performance. Additionally, hydrogen producers and users also need to take extra care not to release hydrogen gas into the environment . This is because hydrogen may moisten and cool the stratosphere, slowing down the recovery of the ozone layer and it may hasten the build-up of GHG.

While there are clearly still some hurdles to overcome to achieve widespread commercial use of green hydrogen fuel, it remains an important tool in the fight against climate change.

 Clyde & Co is hosting energy and infrastructure-themed tables in The Chancery Lane Project's virtual legal hackathon, running from 23 September to 18 December 2020. This post is part of a series of updates posted during the hackathon on business-relevant climate initiatives and innovative solutions to some of the challenges arising from climate change in the Energy or Infrastructure industries.