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Risk of the Hydrogen Economy for Atmospheric Methane


Hydrogen (H2) is expected to play a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, hydrogen losses to the atmosphere impact atmospheric chemistry, including positive feedback on methane (CH4), the second most important greenhouse gas. Here we investigate through a minimalist model the response of atmospheric methane to fossil fuel displacement by hydrogen. We find that CH4 concentration may increase or decrease depending on the amount of hydrogen lost to the atmosphere and the methane emissions associated with hydrogen production. Green H2 can mitigate atmospheric methane if hydrogen losses throughout the value chain are below 9 ± 3%. Blue H2 can reduce methane emissions only if methane losses are below 1%. We address and discuss the main uncertainties in our results and the implications for the decarbonization of the energy sector.

Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: United States

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