Using hydrogen as fuel could have economic and environmental benefits, but currently over 95 % of all hydrogen is generated from fossil fuels, in carbon dioxide-intensive processes. For hydrogen to be a climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, this needs to change and the recently completed EU CERTIFHY project thinks its new framework might help do this. ‘By defining green and low-carbon hydrogen, coming up with a detailed proposal for a Guarantee of Origin (GO) system and a roadmap for implementation, we hope to establish a market that can help decarbonising industry and transport in Europe,’ says project coordinator Wouter Vanhoudt from Belgium-based energy consultants Hinicio. The CERTIFHY consortium led by Hinicio, included technology, policy and regulatory experts but no industry, in order to avoid the interests of a particular sector dominating the scheme design process. But industry was closely involved through the affiliated partners including many multi-national companies in manufacturing and energy production. One of the first jobs of the consortium was to define hydrogen produced with low-carbon emissions, named Premium hydrogen. This was then divided into CERTIFHY Green Hydrogen and CERTIFHY Low Carbon Hydrogen, both having carbon emissions 60 % lower than the current industry practices, but the former generated by renewable energy with the latter created by non-renewable energy. Both types provide a hydrogen fuel that responds to a different demand - be it greener products or the push to decarbonisation. The consortium created a ‘Guarantee of Origin’ or GO system which certifies the credentials of the hydrogen being traded as a fuel - either as Green hydrogen or Low Carbon Hydrogen.It takes into account both renewable and green house gas emissions, and as hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be made and transformed into electricity and (synthetic) natural gas, the scheme can be linked to certification schemes in other energy sectors. According to Vanhoudt this ultimately provides ‘a transparent and credible system that empowers consumers by disclosing the environmental quality of hydrogen, with regards to origin and carbon intensity.’ Vanhoudt adds ‘GOs allows the end-users to have the freedom to choose the carbon intensity and/or renewable content of the hydrogen they consume’. The hope is that this consumer-centred approach will become a driving force for a Europe’s energy transition and decarbonisation of industry and transport. The common understanding CERTIFHY is establishing with its GO system will boost demand and create a new market for Premium Hydrogen. October 2016 saw the project’s final meeting in Brussels where the consortium presented the project results and next steps to an audience consisting of leading industry, policy makers and industry associations. The system received strong support from amongst others, the European public-private partnership in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies. Bart Biebuyck, the executive director of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) stated ‘CERTIFHY is a promising project with good support from the industry’. With strong support there is a commitment to implementing the first EU-wide GO scheme for Premium Hydrogen. The consortium is building a supervisory board and developing a GO infrastructure. Its first validations will be pilot plants in Member States, where industry will produce green or low-carbon hydrogen using renewable electricity . The consortium will audit production batches to create GOs registered into a registry and then traded amongst market players.
CERTIFHY, hydrogen fuel, Green energy, Low-carbon energy, carbon-intensity, Guarantee of Origin