Hydrogen production, logistics and storage can be achieved through a wide range of processes and primary sources, with different environmental and economic performances.
Simplified visual presentation of hydrogen value chain
Whatever the pathway to produce hydrogen, the hydrogen molecule maintains identical characteristics irrespectively of the primary source it is derived from. As soon as hydrogen is mixed with other gases though, it is impossible to distinguish its origins, whether it originates from conventional power sources or from green energy sources, as it becomes diffused in a sort of “Energy Lake” as visualised in Figure 3 below. Hence tracing of hydrogen from production to final customers is an insolvable task, while green electricity, biofuels or bio-methane also face the same issue.
The production of green hydrogen and its effective consumption at the point of use will therefore be unbundled from each other in many cases. This explains why a system of guarantees of origin for green hydrogen is necessary so that final customers can buy green hydrogen even though they may not be the molecules they will effectively use.
The next Figure provides a graphic explanation of the Guarantee of Origin (“GoO”) concept for the case of electricity. As we can see from the figure, the starting point of the principle of GoO is the splitting of the physical electricity from its quality (source, time of production, etc.). A GoO makes it possible to claim any specific quality for a particular quantity of electricity. For this purpose, certificates are used to separate the environmental value of energy produced by renewable sources from the physical deliverance of this energy. In principle, a GoO is issued electronically and registered for a controlled quantity of electricity generation based on renewable energy sources (usually one GoO per 1 MWh), traded and redeemed (i.e. used) by suppliers as evidence to their customers of the quality of the delivered electricity. In order to control the information and the accuracy of the GoO, the GoO is registered in a databases – from issuance, via trade, to redemption. This database registry enables market players (traders and suppliers) to use standard GoO in accordance with transparent criteria. Under a labelling system, the GoO is cancelled as soon as the electricity is delivered to the consumer.
Guarantees of Origins system: key principles
For more information on existing schemes, continue reading in our Info Center section