Legal status & Certification of origin

This LAP is concerned with the legal status of hydrogen as a fuel and the procedures for certification of hydrogen fuel. Among other aspects, it investigates whether Hydrogen is recognized as an alternative fuel and under what conditions. The existence of common definitions of what constitutes “green” hydrogen is also researched.


Formal procedure by which an accredited or authorised person or agency assesses and verifies (and attests in writing by issuing a certificate) the origin, attributes, characteristics, quality, the calculation of greenhouse gas reduction potential of hydrogen in accordance with established requirements or standards

Pan-European Assessment:

Despite national / private initiatives (DE, DK, BE) to define “green” / “renewable” hydrogen, there is currently no binding or voluntary, uniform certification of origin system at European level

The absence of a common definition of green (or renewable) hydrogen can be a barrier that will slow down the implementation of (green) hydrogen as an alternative fuel. Divergent approaches may jeopardize the free movement of (green) hydrogen across borders.
Moreover, the absence of Guarantee of Origin (GoO) scheme for green (renewable) hydrogen hinders the development of a green (renewable) hydrogen market which may encourage the production of hydrogen from hydrocarbons that may reduce the overall environmental benefits of hydrogen in all applications (mobility, energy, industrial feedstock)
Is it a barrier?
Type of Barrier
Regulatory gap
Assessment Severity
The UK has sought to utilise both ‘brown’ and ‘green’ hydrogen in different applications but there is recognition that certified ‘green’ H2 would be of benefit across HFC sectors

Currently, the carbon intensity of hydrogen supplied and used and any reductions in carbon intensity against a baseline cannot be formally recognised in terms of impacts against UK carbon budgets (the UK measure for reduction for the Climate Change Act) and emissions improvement


Question 1a - What is the legal status of hydrogen as a fuel?
a - As of 2016 Hydrogen was formally recognised in the UK as a transport fuel. This covers hydrogen used both with a fuel cell onboard a vehicle (for direct electricity in motive power function - for which there is no fuel duty payable), and for combustion in a dual fuel ICE vehicle (where there is fuel duty payable for hydrogen combustion)
Question 1b - Is the EU legislation (Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Directive) transposed in you country, and how has it been assessed?
b - The AFID has been transposed in the UK in October 2017 via the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation. This follows a long consultation period which closed in November 2016 and then a government response. The transposition for UK hydrogen refuelling points includes only the reference to ISO 17268 along with other more general requirements (references to ISO/TS 20100 and ISO 14687–2 will be omitted, based on feedback received by the OLEV from DG Move) which unfortunately makes all newly installed UK hydrogen refuelling stations illegal, as there are currently no ISO 17268 compliant hydrogen nozzles available on the market. It remains to be seen if this will halt the deployment of hydrogen refuelling stations in the UK until a new nozzle comes on the market that does comply with ISO 17268 .
Question 2 - At European level, no binding guarantee of origin certification system of hydrogen origin is established yet, while there are initiatives (e.g CertifHy project and others) - Is a certification system of hydrogen origin established at national level?
There is no system adopted for the UK as yet at the beginning of 2018. The UK Department for Energy & Climate Change has looked at certification options and the CertifHy project has been noted as a potential approach.
Question 3a - What is the scope of certification (e.g. feedstocks and processes that can be used to generate hydrogen) for hydrogen?
a - Not fully implemented and expected to be based on renewables content (other than gas and electricity)
Question 3b - Which proofs of origin of feedstocks and energy sources for each pathway mentioned in question 3a must be provided?
b - The UK has a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (under the Energy Act 2007 and amended 20013 to implement the EU Fuel Quality Directive aspects and further amended 2015) in order to support greenhouse gas emission reduction for the transport sector but applies only to biofuels for transport and non road mobile machinery .
Question 4 What legal regulations are applicable in your country in relation with greenhouse gas reduction obligations?
The UK has legally binding carbon reduction targets under the Climate Change Act 2008 for the reduction of targeted greenhouse gas emissions; by 2050, which shall be at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050 (taken across all sectors). The UK has not set specific sector targets and instead works with legally mandated Carbon Budgets (which currently go out to 2032 – as Carbon Budgets are set at least 12 years in advance to allow policy–makers, businesses and individuals enough time to prepare). It monitors sectoral performance and also amends sectoral targets / sets new policy frameworks to achieve sectoral and overall carbon reduction in line with the 2032 and 2050 targets
Describe the comparable technology and its relevance with regard to hydrogen
Bio gases

National legislation:

EU Legislation:

  • Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (AFID)
    The AFID establishes a common framework of measures for the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure in the Union in order to minimize dependence on oil and to mitigate the environmental impact of transport.

    The Directive sets out minimum requirements for the building-up of alternative fuels infrastructure, including recharging points for electric vehicles and refuelling points for natural gas (LNG and CNG) and hydrogen, to be implemented by means of Member States' national policy frameworks, as well as common technical specifications for such recharging and refuelling points, and user information requirements.

    Article 2 defines ‘Alternative fuels’ as fuels or power sources which serve, at least partly, as a substitute for fossil oil sources in the energy supply to transport and which have the potential to contribute to its decarbonisation and enhance the environmental performance of the transport sector. They include, inter alia: hydrogen.

    It lays down, in Article 5, that Member States which decide to include hydrogen refuelling points accessible to the public in their national policy frameworks shall ensure that, by 31 December 2025, an appropriate number of such points are available, to ensure the circulation of hydrogen-powered motor vehicles, including fuel cell vehicles, within networks determined by those Member States, including, where appropriate, cross-border links.

    Annex II contains technical specifications for hydrogen refuelling points for motor vehicles and additionally lays down that:
    • Outdoor hydrogen refuelling points dispensing gaseous hydrogen used as fuel on board motor vehicles shall comply with the technical specifications of the ISO/TS 20100 Gaseous Hydrogen Fuelling specification.
    • The hydrogen purity dispensed by hydrogen refuelling points shall comply with the technical specifications included in the ISO 14687-2 standard.
    • Hydrogen refuelling points shall employ fuelling algorithms and equipment complying with the ISO/TS 20100 Gaseous Hydrogen Fuelling specification.
    • Connectors for motor vehicles for the refuelling of gaseous hydrogen shall comply with the ISO 17268 gaseous hydrogen motor vehicle refuelling connection devices standard.
  • Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC (RED)
    Directive 2009/28/EC establishes a common framework for the promotion of energy from renewable sources. It sets mandatory national targets for the overall share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy and for the share of energy from renewable sources in transport.

    It sets national overall targets for the share of energy from renewable sources (Article 3 and part A of Annex I) as well as a legally binding 10% target (energy content) for renewable energy in transport in 2020. It also, (in Article 15) defines the role and the scope of guarantees of origin of electricity, heating and cooling produced from renewable energy sources
  • Directive (EU) 2015/1513 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 September 2015 amending Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) Directive)
    Directive (EU) 2015/1514 additionally promotes the use of advanced sustainable biofuels and renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin. It defines “Renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin” as liquid or gaseous fuels other than biofuels whose energy content comes from renewable energy sources other than biomass, and which are used in transport;

    It also provides that the contribution of renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin towards the target shall be considered to be twice its energy content
  • Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Council Directive 93/12/EEC (FQD)
    Although not originally designed to impact (negatively or positively) alternative fuels (The objective of these legislative acts being to set technical specifications on health and environmental grounds for fuels to be used for vehicles equipped with positive-ignition and compression-ignition engines), Directive 98/70/ EC and its subsequent amendments indirectly affect the use of fuels which are defined by low life cycle greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy as well the use of carbon capture and storage.
  • Directive 2009/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 amending Directive 98/70/EC as regards the specification of petrol, diesel and gas-oil and introducing a mechanism to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    Article 7a of Directive 2009/30/EC states that Member States shall require suppliers to reduce as gradually as possible life cycle greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy from fuel and energy supplied by 6 % by 31 December 2020 and aim for an additional 2% reduction through the use of any technology (including carbon capture and storage) capable of reducing life cycle greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy from fuel or energy supplied