Green hydrogen: A guide to policy making


November 2020
ISBN : 978-92-9260-286-4

Hydrogen produced with renewable energy sources – or “green” hydrogen – has emerged as a key element to achieve net-zero emissions from heavy industry and transport. Along with net-zero commitments by growing numbers of governments, green hydrogen has started gaining momentum based on low-cost renewable electricity, ongoing technological improvements and the benefits of greater power-system flexibility.

The report is also available in Chinese (中文)

Hydrogen-based fuels previously attracted interest mainly as an alternative to shore up oil supply. However, green hydrogen, as opposed to the “grey” (fossil-based) or “blue” (hybrid) varieties, also help to boost renewables in the energy mix and decarbonise energy-intensive industries.

This report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) outlines the main barriers that inhibiting green hydrogen uptake and the policies needed to address these. It also offers insights on how to kickstart the green hydrogen sector as a key enabler of the energy transition at the national or regional level.

See also a compilation of two IRENA reports on hydrogen: Making the Breakthrough: Green hydrogen policies and technology costs

Key pillars of green hydrogen policy making include:

  • National hydrogen strategy. Each country needs to define its level of ambition for hydrogen, outline the amount of support required, and provide a reference on hydrogen development for private investment and finance.
  • Setting policy priorities. Green hydrogen can support a wide range of end-uses. Policy makers should identify and focus on applications that provide the highest value.
  • Guarantees of origin. Carbon emissions should be reflected over the whole lifecycle of hydrogen. Origin schemes need to include clear labels for hydrogen and hydrogen products to increase consumer awareness and facilitate claims of incentives.
  • Governance system and enabling policies. As green hydrogen becomes mainstream, policies should cover its integration into the broader energy system. Civil society and industry must be involved to maximise the benefits.

Subsequent briefs will explore the entire hydrogen value chain, providing sector-by-sector guidance on the design and implementation of green hydrogen policies.