The International Renewable Energy Agency has outlined a series of technical considerations for green hydrogen tracking systems. According to the document, a degree of flexibility should be taken into account in the short term to ensure that the nascent green hydrogen market can develop.

The decarbonising end-use sectors working group at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has provided a set of key recommendations for the creation of green hydrogen certificates and standards.

In the document “Decarbonising End-use Sectors: Green Hydrogen Certification,” the group of experts stressed the importance of relying on independent third parties for the verification of all data on the green hydrogen tracking systems, as well as on objective and public disclosure standards.

Two main models were identified for the future certification scheme: a “book and claim” system that is mostly applied to renewable electricity, in which the claim on consuming renewable energy booked by an energy provider is separate from the physical flow; and a “mass balancing” system that is commonly utilized for biofuels, in which a physical link between the production and consumption of green energy must always be proved.

“By granting consumers fully reliable information on the hydrogen supplied to them, such a tracking system can incentivize companies to commit to using green hydrogen, create social interest, and promote consumer information, and therefore have the potential to accelerate the clean energy transition,” the report reads. “The standardization of these certificates can also allow and support the development of green hydrogen trading and accelerate the emergence and establishment of an international market.”

The document also highlighted the difficulty of implementing common regulations on a global scale and the possibility that several communication issues may arise between the systems of different countries. “Transparency issues may come up if information on the production process and transport, particularly relating to links with non-renewables, is not clearly traced, documented, and stated,” the IRENA experts noted.

Four main requirements were outlined for the certification of hydrogen produced by renewable energy sources: A temporal correlation ensuring that the electricity used for the electrolysis is renewable; a geographical correlation, requiring some degree of physical link, for the hydrogen production; avoiding higher shares of fossil-generated electricity elsewhere in the electricity system; and specifications providing full transparency and information on the resources used.

Furthermore, carbon emissions should be considered for each kilogram of green hydrogen along the entire value chain, from production to transport. “Nevertheless, a degree of flexibility in regard to the geographical, temporal and additionality requirements should be taken into account in the short term to ensure that the nascent green hydrogen market can develop,” the document notes.