UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Hydrogen energy research

Our longstanding hydrogen research programme has focused on energy systems and scenarios, innovation and technological change, and policy and regulation

1 February 2015

istock car pollution

UCL ISR is a core member of the EPSRC-funded Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Supergen Hub

Hydrogen has the potential to act as a cost-effective, low-carbon energy carrier for use as a transport fuel. Moreover, several other important uses of hydrogen are receiving increasing attention including power-to-gas (to make use of excess electricity generation from intermittent technologies such as wind turbines) and the potential for hydrogen to decarbonise gas supplied from the gas networks. UCL is leading efforts to better understand the potential contribution of hydrogen in these areas.

We use a variety of approaches to understand the possible implications of moving towards the widespread use of hydrogen, and to understand the drivers, barriers and policy instruments that are relevant for a possible hydrogen transition. Our research has focused on three major themes:

  1. Energy systems and scenarios
  2. Innovation and technological change
  3. Policy & Regulation

Our projects include:

  • Core member of the EPSRC Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Hub (H2FC Hub) which represents the UK academic community in hydrogen and fuel cells, since its creation in 2012.  We lead on on socioeconomic and policy research.
  • Leading the EPRSC Hydrogen's Value in the Energy System (HYVE) project with partners at the Universities of Edinburgh and Reading.
  • Leading the H2FC Hub Green Hydrogen Standard project.

We have led or contributed to five of the six White Papers that the H2FC Hub has published since 2012. We led papers on the potential for H2FC technologies to contribute to low-carbon heating, and on opportunities for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to contribute to clean growth in the UK.


The team has been involved in a series of projects funded by the EPSRC’s ‘Supergen’ programme.

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Supergen Hub

The team is a member of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Supergen Hub, which will run from 2012-2017, along with collaborating institutions (Imperial College, University of Birmingham, University of Bath; University of St. Andrews; Newcastle University; University of Ulster). The UCL team is the lead institution on socio-economic package of work under the hub. For this work, the team is developing a new energy systems model, UKTM-UCL, and is using it to understand the potential roles for hydrogen inter-seasonal energy storage, and possible transition pathways for hydrogen energy for the transport sector.

The project has produced four sucessful White Papers on energy security, energy systems and the economic implications of adopting hydrogen and fuel cells: 

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Supergen Hub is producing a series of evidence-based white papers to inform key stakeholders, especially policy makers, of the roles and potential benefits of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

UCL led the production of the first White Paper, on the potential contribution of hydrogen and fuel cells for heating. We were also partners in the second forthcoming White Paper on the implications of hydrogen and fuel cells for UK energy security:

  1. The role of hydrogen and fuel cells in providing affordable, secure low-carbon heat (2014)
  2. The role of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in delivering Energy Security for the UK (2017)
  3. The role of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in Future Energy Systems (2017)
  4. The Economic Impact of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the UK (2017)
Hydrogen's Value in the Energy System (HYVE)

The HYVE (Hydrogen's Value in the Energy System) project aims to find out how hydrogen might contribute to a transition to a low carbon economy.

We are estimating the potential demand for hydrogen in transport, industry, electricity and heat markets. We are also examining how hydrogen might be produced and supplied.

At the end of the project, we will have a much clearer idea about how a transition to a hydrogen-fuelled economy could be brought about.

Green Hydrogen Standard

The Green Hydrogen Standard project is considering how to define a green hydrogen standard for the UK and how this might be used in policy instruments in the future. It is working closely with the government–industry Green Hydrogen Standard Working Group of the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

  • In 2015, we produced a report for the Climate Change Committee on hydrogen scenarios.
  • Following our project on a Green Hydrogen standard, Paul Dodds has become co-chair of the UK Government’s Hydrogen Advisory Council working group on Standards and Regulations.
  • Paul Dodds is the UK Government’s Alternate Delegate to the IEA Hydrogen Technology Collaboration Programme.
  • Paul Dodds and Will McDowall have both given evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees
  • Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • H2FC Hub partners:
  • Imperial College
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bath
  • University of St. Andrews
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Ulster
  • Kim, S., Dodds, P.E., Butnar, I. (2021) Energy system modelling challenges for synthetic fuels.  Johnson Matthey Technology Review 65(2):263–274.
  • Velazquez Abad, A., Dodds, P. E. (2020) Green hydrogen characterisation initiatives: definitions, standards, guarantees of origin, and challenges.  Energy Policy 138:1113000.
  • Staffell, I., Scamman, D., Velazquez Abad, A., Balcombe, P., Dodds, P. E., Ekins, P., Shah, N., Ward, K. R. (2019). The role of hydrogen and fuel cells in the global energy system. Energy & Environmental Science 12:463–491.
  • Turner, K., Alabia, O., Smith, M., Irvine, J. and Dodds, P. E. (2018). Framing policy on low emissions vehicles in terms of economic gains: might the most straightforward gain be delivered by supply chain activity to support refuelling? Energy Policy 119:528–534.
  • Stockford, C., Brandon, N., Irvine, J., Mays, T., Metcalfe, I., Book, D., Ekins, P., Kucernak, A., Molkov, V., Steinberger-Wilckens, R., Shah, N., Dodds, P., Dueso, C., Samsatli, S., Thompson, C. (2015) H2FC SUPERGEN: An overview of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell research across the UK.  International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 40:5534–5543.
  • Dodds, P. E., Staffell, I., Hawkes, A. D., Li, F., Grünewald, P., McDowall, W., Ekins, P. (2015) Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for heating: a review. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 40(5):2065–2083.
  • Dodds, P. E. and Ekins, P. (2014) A portfolio of power-trains for the UK: an energy systems analysis. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 39(26):13941–13953.
  • Dodds, P. E. (2014) Integrating housing stock and energy systems models as a strategy to improve heat decarbonisation assessments. Applied Energy 132:358–369.
  • Dodds, P. E. and McDowall, W. (2014) Methodologies for representing the road transport sector in energy system models. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 39(5):234.

H2FC Hub White Papers:

  • Dodds, P. E., Velazquez Abad, A., McDowall, W., Fox, G. I. (2020) Opportunities for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to contribute to clean growth in the UK.  H2FC Supergen Hub, London, UK.
  • Steinberger-Wilckens, R., Dodds, P. E., Kurban, Z., Velazquez Abad, A., and Radcliffe, J. (Eds.) (2017) The role of hydrogen and fuel cells in delivering energy security for the UK. H2FC Supergen Hub, London, UK.
  • Staffell, I. and Dodds, P. E. (Eds.) (2017) The role of hydrogen and fuel cells in future energy systems. H2FC Supergen Hub, London, UK.
  • Dodds, P. E. and Hawkes, A. (Eds.) (2014) The role of hydrogen and fuel cells in providing affordable, secure low-carbon heat. H2FC Supergen Hub, London, UK.

Other reports (for CCC):

  • Hart, D., Howes, J., Lehner, F., Dodds, P. E., Hughes, N., Fais, B., Sabio, N. and Crowther, M. (2015). Scenarios for deployment of hydrogen in contributing to meeting carbon budgets and the 2050 target. Report for the Committee on Climate Change.  London, UK.