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A series of green hydrogen storage tanks from China's largest solar green hydrogen facility.

China's largest solar green hydrogen facility. It can store 210,000 cubic meters of hydrogen and transport 28,000 cubic meters of hydrogen every hour. 

Credit: VCG/VCG / Getty Images

Green Hydrogen

Call to action:

Use electricity generated from renewable energy sources to turn water into hydrogen fuel and lower greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, transportation, and industry.

‘Green’ hydrogen originates from water molecules (H2O) that have been split using renewable energy. Its range of regenerative applications is large. Green hydrogen can generate electricity, drive industrial processes, or power vehicles. It can be a feedstock for turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel or transforming atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia fertilizer. Green hydrogen can ‘fill in’ for solar and wind energy when the sun is down and the winds are calm. It can replace fossil fuels in sectors of the economy that are difficult to access with renewable energy. Despite these advantages, 99 percent of hydrogen used today originates from fossil fuels, such as methane, mostly because it has been cheaper to produce. The resulting carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. However, green hydrogen is poised for a global breakout thanks to ever-cheaper renewable power sources, mass production of equipment that generates hydrogen, and new subsidies. In 2022, $4.2 billion worth of green hydrogen was produced globally and is forecasted to exceed $130 billion by 2031 potentially.

Action Items


Learn about green hydrogen and its benefits. For a colorless gas, hydrogen is often described with a range of hues: black, grey, pink, red, blue, and green – each referring to how the gas is produced. Green hydrogen is made through a process called electrolysis, which consists of running electricity through a liquid, such as water, to trigger a chemical reaction, in this case, splitting H2O molecules into streams of hydrogen and oxygen gas. ‘Green’ indicates that renewable energy sources power the electrolysis. This contrasts with the most common ‘colors’ of hydrogen – grey, brown, and black – which generate large amounts of greenhouse gases from the quantity of energy needed to strip hydrogen off of natural gas (grey hydrogen) or coal (brown or black hydrogen) as well as the carbon dioxide released as a byproduct. Pink and red hydrogen are produced by nuclear energy. A green hydrogen economy can help us achieve climate and energy goals. Benefits include: 

Learn about the hurdles facing the adoption of green hydrogen. The biggest challenge for green hydrogen is cost, which was several times higher than the cost of grey hydrogen for a long time. As the cost of renewable energy drops and the scale of electrolyzer production increases, the threshold of $2/kg of hydrogen is approaching; at this point, green hydrogen will be cost-competitive, not just with fossil fuel-derived hydrogen but with fossil fuels in general.

Support organizations advocating for green hydrogen. The groundswell of interest recently in green hydrogen means that many projects and groups could use support.

  • With more than 250 GW of green hydrogen projects in the pipeline, you may be closer than you think to a project that could use your local support or advocacy. The Hydrogen Map can help you find a green hydrogen project near you.
  • The Green Hydrogen Catapult is an initiative launched through the leadership of the Rocky Mountain Institute and the backing of the United Nations.
  • The NW Renewable Hydrogen Conference offers a way for green hydrogen advocates to learn more and engage directly with industry leaders.
  • H2 Energy News is a clearinghouse of the latest news about global green hydrogen.



Produce green hydrogen, not grey or blue hydrogen. From 1990 to 2018, demand for hydrogen roughly doubled. The hydrogen industry must commit to replacing 100 percent of retiring grey hydrogen infrastructure with green hydrogen generation.

  • In Europe, HyDeal Ambition is working to link 95 gigawatts (GW) of solar panels to 67 GW of electrolyzers to generate 3.6 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2030.
  • In Kazakhstan, Kazakh Invest has teamed up with Germany-based Svevind Energy to create Reckaz, an endeavor to produce 3 million tonnes a year of green hydrogen using 45 GW of solar and wind installations by 2028.
  • Plug Power Inc. in Finland is installing 2.2 GW of electrolyzer capacity to produce green hydrogen to create sustainable ammonia and steel. Part of this work will involve repurposing an old coal plant.
  • A subsidiary of the large, multinational corporation Heidelberg Materials is working with Swansea University in the United Kingdom to build a clean cement demonstration plant that could help establish a viable path forward to reduce the stubborn emissions from the cement industry.

Partner with scientists to commercialize novel green hydrogen products. The breadth of uses of green hydrogen means many emerging discoveries must be made from the lab to the marketplace.

Retrofit smaller airplanes to run on hydrogen. While engineering breakthroughs will be required to transform long-haul flights to run on green hydrogen, we are on the cusp of seeing smaller regional flights shifting to hydrogen power via retrofitted fixed-wing propeller aircraft.

  • A partnership between Icelandair and Universal Hydrogen has positioned the former as the first airline in the world to offer all-hydrogen-powered domestic aviation.
  • In Alaska, North Pacific Airways (trade name: Ravn Alaska) placed an order for 30 of ZeroAvia’s ZA2000 powertrains, aiming to retrofit its fleet of De Havilland Dash-8 for zero-emission operations. Ravn is the primary airline servicing several remote, majority-Alaska Native communities that could begin producing green hydrogen locally to alleviate the burden of high-cost aviation fuel.


Research ways of using green hydrogen. More research is needed on how to make use of green hydrogen in a variety of sectors. Shipping and aviation will find it hard to decarbonize sectors without green hydrogen. However, there are still basic questions about optimizing certain types of hydrogen-powered vehicles for safety, efficiency, and affordability. Particularly important are hydrogen-powered semi-trucks, ocean-going vessels, and airplanes. 

  • Rather than changing our vehicles to run on green hydrogen, we can convert hydrogen into electrofuels or eFuels, which are liquid fuels made from green hydrogen and carbon dioxide and can be used like traditional kerosene and diesel in planes, ships, and trucks. However, more research is needed on how to produce them efficiently, cheaply, and at scale.

Research new ways of green hydrogen production. Further investigation is needed into the optimal methods of turning green energy into hydrogen. Finding ways to create cheaper electrolyzers is one significant research need, but there are questions about whether electrolysis is the best method. Other methods in need of deeper investigation include thermochemical water splitting and photobiological and photoelectrochemical hydrogen production.

Investigate hydrogen leakage. There are safety and climate concerns surrounding the leakage of hydrogen from infrastructure and vehicles. Leakage must be kept below 9 percent for green hydrogen to be a climate solution rather than a net accelerator of climate change. This has led to calls from scientists for efforts to prevent, detect, and fix hydrogen leaks from our infrastructure.


Use green hydrogen for energy storage and load management. Green hydrogen production can take excess renewable energy from intermittent sources and turn it into electricity when those sources are not available. Facilities are now coming online that use only solar panels, green hydrogen, and batteries to produce consistent reliable power output. The ability of electrolyzers to turn on and off with relative ease means that these facilities could be good candidates for interruptible service contracts. This can keep the cost of electricity low by allowing utilities to shut off power to certain users during intervals of spiking demand rather than paying for costly ‘peaker plants’.

  • Green hydrogen could be a viable means of long-term energy storage, thereby allowing high levels of intermittent renewable energy sources like solar and wind. This is a key enabler of the goals of the movement to electrify everything (see Energy Storage Nexus and Electrify Everything Nexus).

Invest in distributed green hydrogen production. Many smaller communities will likely be early adopters of sustainable aviation as smaller retrofitted propeller planes start being used for the first hydrogen-powered commercial flights in the coming years. Producing green hydrogen locally can turn aviation fuel from a significant drain on rural economies to a new source of revenue while also reducing emissions. This could be particularly valuable for off-grid communities across the Arctic and the Global South.


Replace ammonia with green ammonia as a stepping stone to regenerative agriculture. Ammonia is a common nitrogen fertilizer or ingredient in mineral fertilizers. While truly regenerative agriculture may not require chemical fertilizers, converting existing operations may require time. Green ammonia made from green hydrogen and renewable energy sources is starting to hit the market in some regions and could provide a medium-term solution for reducing a farm’s climate impact. The growth of this market is projected to increase by more than 70 percent per year between 2023 and 2030.


Create incentives for green hydrogen production. There are a variety of ways to support emerging green hydrogen markets.

Establish clear, strong definitions for green hydrogen. There is currently a push from industry players, including BP and Shell, to water down support for green hydrogen by defining it so broadly that dirtier forms of hydrogen produced with fossil fuels can qualify for subsidies. 

  • One major issue is whether the hydrogen producers must establish annual or hourly matching to new green energy production to qualify as green. The latter, which would likely require a phase-in period, is a stronger incentive to decarbonize grids by preventing fossil fuel use as a crutch when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. However, this could result in increased costs of producing green hydrogen. 
  • One study found hourly matching would also not increase the cost of electricity to other users, while annual matching could increase it by 43 percent.
  • The Colorado Legislature passed a state-level green hydrogen subsidy as an additional incentive on top of the US Inflation Reduction Act subsidy. The bill implements an hourly matching rule.

Carefully consider whether pink or red hydrogen, which utilizes nuclear energy, should receive support. Policies favoring the establishment of pink or red hydrogen production facilities may make sense in settings where nuclear reactors already exist or where there is an appetite for building next-generation reactors, such as the High-Temperature Engineering Test Reactor in Japan.

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