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Worldwide greenhouse gas emissions of green hydrogen production and transport


Large-scale introduction of green hydrogen is envisioned to play an important role in reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The production and transport of green hydrogen itself is, however, not free from emissions. Here we assess the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions for 1,025 planned green hydrogen facilities, covering different electrolyser technologies and renewable electricity sources in 72 countries. We demonstrate that the current exclusion of life-cycle emissions of renewables, component manufacturing and hydrogen leakage in regulations gives a false impression that green hydrogen can easily meet emission thresholds. Evaluating different hydrogen production configurations, we find median production emissions in the most optimistic configuration of 2.9 kg CO2 equivalents (CO2e) kg H2−1 (0.8–4.6 kgCO2e kg H2−1, 95% confidence interval). Including 1,000 km transport via pipeline or liquid hydrogen shipping adds another 1.5 or 1.8 kgCO2e kg H2−1, respectively. We conclude that achieving low-emission green hydrogen at scale requires well-chosen production configurations with substantial emission reductions along the supply chain.

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Fig. 1: Contribution of production steps to the overall GHG emissions of green hydrogen produced from various electricity sources.
Fig. 2: Relation between green hydrogen production GHG emissions and electricity source and production configuration.
Fig. 3: Spatial variation in cradle-to-production gate GHG emissions of green hydrogen produced with wind and solar power.
Fig. 4: Contributions of production, conversion, transport, reconversion and storage to cradle-to-point of delivery emissions of green hydrogen.
Fig. 5: GHG emissions of green hydrogen production and transport over increasing transport distances.
Fig. 6: GHG emission–supply curves for green hydrogen.

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Data availability

All data used to produce the outputs presented in this paper can be accessed via Zenodo ( We used publicly available data from the IEA Hydrogen Projects Database (version of October 2022) for hydrogen facility-specific information on electricity source, electrolyser technology, location and project size (accessible via For the calculation of location-specific emissions of solar electricity, we used the solar irradiance map available from Global Solar Atlas 2.0, a free, web-based application developed and operated by the company Solargis s.r.o. on behalf of the World Bank Group, utilizing Solargis data, with funding provided by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). For additional information, see For the calculation of location-specific emissions of wind electricity, we used wind speed maps available from the Global Wind Atlas 3.0, a free, web-based application developed, owned and operated by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). The Global Wind Atlas 3.0 is released in partnership with the World Bank Group, utilizing data provided by Vortex, using funding provided by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). For additional information, see To calculate the emissions of wind electricity based on wind speed and the onshore and offshore location, we created a generalized linear model based on wind turbine data from (ref. 24). We used the GHG intensities of national 2030 grid mixes modelled for a 2 °C policy scenario published by Knobloch et al. 26 at For calculating sea water desalination requirements, we used publicly available data on country-level water stress scores from the World Resources Institute (

Code availability

All code used to produce the outputs presented in this paper can be accessed via Zenodo (


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M.A.J.H. was financed by Grant 016.Vici.170.190 from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

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K.d.K., S.V.H., M.A.J.H. and H.d.C. conceived and designed the study; K.d.K. performed the research; K.d.K. analysed the data with contributions from S.V.H., M.A.J.H. and J.P.H.; K.d.K., S.V.H. and F.K. wrote the manuscript; K.d.K., M.A.J.H., F.K., R.v.Z., J.P.H., H.d.C. and S.V.H. provided revisions to the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kiane de Kleijne or Steef V. Hanssen.

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Nature Energy thanks Kevin Dillman, Petra Zapp and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary methods, Figs. 1–6 and Tables 1–12.

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de Kleijne, K., Huijbregts, M.A.J., Knobloch, F. et al. Worldwide greenhouse gas emissions of green hydrogen production and transport. Nat Energy (2024).

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