Global Environmental Impacts of the Hydrogen Economy

R. G. Derwent, P. G. Simmonds, S. O'Doherty, A. Manning, William Collins, David Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Hydrogen-based energy systems appear to be an attractive
proposition in providing a future replacement for the current fossil-fuel
based energy systems. Hydrogen is an important, though little studied,
trace component of the atmosphere. It is present at the mixing ratio of about
510 ppb currently and has important man-made and natural sources. Because
hydrogen reacts with tropospheric hydroxyl radicals, emissions of hydrogen
to the atmosphere perturb the distributions of methane and ozone, the second
and third most important greenhouse gases after carbon dioxide. Hydrogen
is therefore an indirect greenhouse gas with a global warming potential
GWP of 5.8 over a 100-year time horizon. A future hydrogen economy would
therefore have greenhouse consequences and would not be free from climate
perturbations. If a global hydrogen economy replaced the current fossil
fuel-based energy system and exhibited a leakage rate of 1%, then it would
produce a climate impact of 0.6% of the current fossil fuel based system.
Careful attention must be given to reduce to a minimum the leakage of
hydrogen from the synthesis, storage and use of hydrogen in a future global
hydrogen economy if the full climate benefits are to be realised.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Nuclear Hydrogen Production and Applications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • hydrogen
  • greenhouse effect


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