GEEDS has recently joined the HYDRA project (Hydrogen Economy Benefits and Risks: tools development and policies implementation to mitigate possible climate impacts), whose main objective is to better understand the climate and systemic impacts of large-scale use of hydrogen globally. 

This is a HORIZON project in which we collaborate with different European research institutions in a call to study the Climate Impacts of the Hydrogen Economy for 4 years and which is scheduled to end in October 2027. 

Currently, hydrogen is mainly used in various key applications for the functioning of modern industrial societies, such as refineries and the chemical industry (notably ammonia, key for the production of fertilizers).

Hydrogen, despite being the most abundant chemical element in the universe, is not available on the planet in diatomic form, but rather it usually forms chemical compounds with other elements; To obtain it, it is necessary to produce it industrially. Hydrogen that has been produced from renewable energy sources (the most typical is electrolysis) is called “green”, hydrogen that comes from carbon dioxide (CO2) emitting raw materials is called “grey”, there is a whole range of colors to consider different generation processes. Regarding the total production of hydrogen in its pure form, practically 100% of the hydrogen produced comes from fossil fuels (gray hydrogen), being responsible for 6% of the global consumption of natural gas and 2% of coal, being a relevant contributor to global GHG emissions.

The current hydrogen boom is based not only on replacing the gray hydrogen of these industrial processes with green hydrogen, but also on using it where electrification cannot be applied due to the need for more energy density: transportation, storage, high-temperature processes, steel production, etc.

HYDRA proposes projecting scenarios with the relevance of hydrogen-based technologies, taking into account the systemic implications on the climate, economy, energy, materials, land use and water. Thus, the hydrogen sector will be incorporated into the WILIAM model transversally to all these modules, which will allow the interactions between them to be analyzed. 

HYDRA will especially focus on the impact of hydrogen leaks on climate, as they affect atmospheric chemistry. Although there is still a lot of information missing to understand the processes, recent research points to significant impacts (Bertagni et al., 2022). Thus, HYDRA will establish a monitoring system with new tools to prevent hydrogen leaks, detecting different gases and guaranteeing safety throughout the hydrogen technology process. Links between WILIAM with different climate models will allow the effects of hydrogen leaks to be integrated into the IAM and facilitate integrated analyses. 

In relation to the systemic impacts on the economy, energy, materials, land and water use, it is necessary to emphasize that hydrogen is not an energy source but an energy vector. This means that hydrogen must be obtained from other energy sources. An increase in the use of hydrogen will imply greater energy losses in the system by introducing more intermediate steps from the energy source to the final use. Furthermore, the efficiency of some of the steps is relatively low.

Likewise, it is crucial to analyze the risk of the indirect impact of the use of hydrogen based on electrolysis on the energy system, since its use would imply massive electrification. This would require the installation of new power plants, and depending on their technology (photovoltaic, wind, combined cycles, coal-based, etc.), it would have different implications in terms of primary energy requirements and CO2 emissions.

Related to the above, a key objective will be to compute the impact on the dynamic EROI of the system (Capellán-Pérez et al., 2019) of the generalization of these technologies (including their indirect effects), and their impact on the socioeconomic sphere. 

It should be noted that the GEEDS has already been working on this problem since 2022, having developed the Final Degree Project Modeling in System Dynamics of the Hydrogen Sector in the Energy Transition(Campos-Rodríguez, 2022) which also received first prize “Valladolid, citysmart and climate neutral” awarded by the Valladolid City Council. 

In short, the main objective of HYDRA is to analyze these scenarios with the presence of hydrogen, identifying benefits, risks and possible ways to mitigate the identified problems. 


  • Bertagni, M.B., Pacala, S.W., Paulot, F., Porporato, A., 2022. Risk of the hydrogen economy for atmospheric methane. Nat. Commun. 13, 7706. 
  • Campos-Rodríguez, J.M., 2022. Modelado en Dinámica de Sistemas del Sector del Hidrógeno en la Transición Energética. 
  • Capellán-Pérez, I., de Castro, C., Miguel González, L.J., 2019. Dynamic Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROI) and material requirements in scenarios of global transition to renewable energies. Energy Strategy Rev. 26, 100399. 

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