Natural hydrogen: Clean energy

Posted: April 30, 2024

The increasingly available energy source, natural hydrogen, with its low emissions and continuous generation, offers great promise for combating climate change. Despite concerns about the economic viability and environmental impact of obtaining it, advances in drilling tech hold promise for efficient extraction, aiding the energy transition.

Hidden in various pockets throughout the globe, natural hydrogen is waiting to be found by those willing to explore. This remarkable element reveals itself in various forms across diverse geological landscapes: nestled within layers of the continental crust, buried deep within the oceanic crust, mingling in volcanic gases, bursting forth in geysers, or simmering within hydrothermal systems. Geologists have found it springs forth from geologies as disparate as Mali, Switzerland, France, and the United States.

Unlike its fossil-fuel counterparts, which take eons to form, natural hydrogen is produced from renewable sources. Natural hydrogen does not have to be produced by energy-intensive electrolyzers, as green hydrogen does. It is also not a byproduct of steam reforming, as is blue hydrogen. The only effort needed for natural hydrogen is extracting and storing the natural reserves. It is the cleanest, most sustainable hydrogen there is.

Natural hydrogen presents an opportunity to combat climate change and expedite the energy transition toward clean energy. Industries can reduce carbon emissions by integrating hydrogen into existing infrastructure and establishing dedicated pipelines.

Natural hydrogen can be a cornerstone of the transition toward sustainability. Technical innovation and collaborative efforts between industry and research companies will allow us to harness the potential of natural hydrogen to drive positive environmental and economic outcomes, paving the way for a greener future.

While the prospect of harnessing natural hydrogen holds immense promise, concerns linger over several challenges:

  1. Leakage: Hydrogen leaks can occur during production, storage and transportation. When hydrogen escapes into the atmosphere, it reduces the concentration of molecules that help destroy greenhouse gases, offsetting its environmental benefits. Monitoring and preventing leaks is essential, but lacking in currently available technology.

  2. Storage and transportation: Storing and transporting hydrogen is complex. It requires liquefaction at extremely low temperatures (-253°C), which is costly. Moreover, hydrogen takes up a lot of space in its gaseous form, making transportation challenging. Existing infrastructure like gas pipelines may not be suitable due to corrosion and safety risks associated with hydrogen.

  3. Safety: Hydrogen is highly flammable and explosive, posing safety risks during storage, transportation and usage. Its small and lightweight molecules make containment difficult compared to natural gas.

Addressing these challenges is crucial for harnessing the potential of hydrogen energy as a clean and sustainable alternative. Efforts are needed in technology development, infrastructure investment and safety measures to make hydrogen energy a viable solution for the future.

This is why it is important to diversify across the assorted colors of hydrogen, incorporating green and blue hydrogen as well as this natural, “white” hydrogen. The challenges with white hydrogen do not mean that we should abandon hydrogen as an energy source all together. We can incorporate other colors to supply enough energy for our greener future.


Hydrogen will play a significant role as a green energy source of the future. Check out how AVEVA is helping the hydrogen industry from design to operations here. You can also check out this infographic to find out more about AVEVA’s role in the hydrogen economy.

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