Emissions impact from hydrogen


Hydrogen is an attractive replacement for natural gas and features prominently in strategies for decarbonising energy supply. Whilst direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from hydrogen use are near-zero, upstream supply chain emissions may be substantial, primarily governed by the production process.

How clean hydrogen is, very much depends on the process used to make it.  Most of the hydrogen in use across the world today has been manufactured using a process that burns fossil gas to make hydrogen. Differing efficiencies and technologies throughout supply chains, as well as regional and regulatory differences, create significant variations in supply chain emissions.

Long term, the intention is to harness the supply of clean renewable energy to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen’s chemical properties make it challenging to keep contained, so, like methane, we can anticipate leakage along the supply chain. Hydrogen is an indirect GHG, so with this increased potential for emissions, we need to understand the effect emissions from a future hydrogen supply chain might have.

Little is known about the effects unburnt hydrogen emissions may have on climate. A new area of SGI research is examining the potential of hydrogen as a GHG itself, or through interaction with other atmospheric pollutants.

The SGI’s are Co-investigators UK Hi-ACT hydrogen hub work package 2: Whole System Understanding. 


Academic Expertise

Meet the Imperial academics working in hydrogen:


The Sustainable Gas Institute has published a number of papers about hydrogen.

Read SGI publications about hydrogen

H2FC Supergen - the hydrogen and fuel cells research hub 

H2FC Supergen Hub

H2FC Supergen, the hydrogen and fuel cells research hub, was managed by the Sustainable Gas Institute. The hub, funded by the Research Council's UK Energy Programme, was part of the government’s Sustainable Power Generation and Supply Initiative. It was set up in 2012 to address the key challenges facing the hydrogen and fuel cell sector as it strives to provide cost-competitive, low carbon technologies in a more secure UK energy landscape.

The Supergen Hub programme completed on 31 December 2023 and two new EPSRC funded hubs begin in 2023: 

The H2FC Supergen website remains active to provide an archive to the research and engagement carried out since 2012.