Skip to content

Hydrogen Production, Storage and Transport for Renewable Energy and Chemicals: An Environmental Footprint Assessment


Hydrogen applications range from an energy carrier to a feedstock producing bulk and other chemicals and as an essential reactant in various industrial applications. However, the sustainability of hydrogen production, storage and transport are neither unquestionable nor equal. Hydrogen is produced from natural gas, biogas, aluminium, acid gas, biomass, electrolytic water splitting and others; a total of eleven sources were investigated in this work. The environmental impact of hydrogen production, storage and transport is evaluated in terms of greenhouse gas and energy footprints, acidification, eutrophication, human toxicity potential, and eco-cost. Different electricity mixes and energy footprint accounting approaches, supported by sensitivity analysis, are conducted for a comprehensive overview. H2 produced from acid gas is identified as the production route with the highest eco-benefit (− 41,188 €/t H2), while the biomass gasification method incurred the highest eco-cost (11,259 €/t H2). The water electrolysis method shows a net positive energy footprint (60.32 GJ/t H2), suggesting that more energy is used than produced. Considering the operating footprint of storage, and transportation, gaseous hydrogen transported via a pipeline is a better alternative from an environmental point of view, and with a lower energy footprint (38 %–85%) than the other options. Storage and transport (without construction) could have accounted for around 35.5% of the total GHG footprint of a hydrogen value chain (production, storage, transportation and losses) if liquefied and transported via road transport instead of a pipeline. The identified results propose which technologies are less burdensome to the environment.

Funding source: The authors would like to acknowledge financial support from the Slovenian Research Agency (research core funding No. P2-0421 and P0412 and projects No. J7-1816 and V2-2271), Ministry of Infrastructure (project No. V2-2271) and the RESHeat - Renewable energy system for residential building heating and electricity production project, that has received funding from the European Union HORIZON 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 956255.
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Czech Republic ; Slovenia

Article metrics loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error