Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Hydrogen is a very abundant element, which can be produced in an electrolyser using renewable electricity. This converts water into hydrogen and oxygen using the electricity, and the hydrogen gas can then be compressed stored in high pressure cylinders.

Interesting Facts

  • Hydrogen can be used directly in fuel cells, as an alternative fuel in combustion devices such as engines and boilers, or as a chemical feedstock in a number of important industrial processes such as ammonia or methanol manufacture.
  • Fuel Cells use an electrochemical process to convert chemical fuels into electricity. The fuel is combined with oxygen from the ambient air to produce electricity, with heat and water as the waste products.
  • Unlike batteries, Fuel Cells will continue to generate electricity as long as a source of fuel is supplied.
  • Fuel Cells do not combust fuel but use a catalytic oxidation which makes this electricity generation process quiet, pollution-free and more efficient than using internal combustion engine powered generators.
  • Hydrogen and Fuel Cells are now playing a key role in developing low carbon smart energy systems with several projects underway in Scotland.

View our Hydrogen Fact Sheet here. 



  • Hydrogen can enable the integration of more intermittent renewables such as wind into the energy system using electrolysis.
  • Hydrogen allows ‘sector coupling’ to make best use of the low carbon energy into heat, transport, and industry.
  • In transport, hydrogen will have an important part in decarbonising ‘hard to treat’ heavy logistics such as trucks, trains, shipping.
  • In manufacturing and industry, hydrogen will allow decarbonisation of high temperature process heat, such as glass, steel, bricks, cement, etc.
  • For industry, hydrogen can be used as a sustainable feedstock for chemicals and clean fuels production.


  • The main challenge for fuel cells is costs, which are coming down steadily as production volumes increase.
  • Recent deployment of fuel cell vehicles by companies such as Toyota, Hyundai and Honda are reducing vehicle costs, but the required hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is not yet in place to allow wide use.
  • Scaling up of hydrogen production is bringing down the cost of hydrogen, but demand is still low.
  • Hydrogen storage at scale still needs further development to allow large quantities of hydrogen to be stored at competitive costs. This offers significant opportunities for underground geological storage, which can meet seasonal heating energy demands.
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