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Industry report urges the UK government to focus on green hydrogen to accelerate clean energy transition

image credit: Green Hydrogen

Leading trade organisation RenewableUK has revealed a series of recommended policy measures that could enable the UK to become a leader in green hydrogen development.

In a recent report, RenewableUK urged the UK government to release a detailed hydrogen strategy explaining how it intends to transform the industry from an emerging niche sector into a critical part of the transition to net-zero. The study, ‘Renewable Hydrogen – Seizing the UK Opportunity’ highlights the necessity for the government to support further development of green hydrogen, involving hydrogen production via sources of renewable energy. According to Renewable UK, by providing added backing towards the renewable industry, the UK can replicate the positive changes experienced in the offshore wind industry.

RenewableUK suggests that a national strategy should include a clear plan to generate the first gigawatt of electrolyser capacity within the UK. The trade body explains that the government should identify potential projects and funding opportunities to enhance innovation, investment and focus on delivering demonstration projects for production and storage.

The study emphasises that reducing the price associated with renewable hydrogen will be critical in reaching its full potential. RenewableUK suggests a target of 5GW of renewable electrolyser capacity by 2030 and 10GW by 2035 and includes a cost reduction target of £2/kg of green hydrogen by 2030. Current costs for green hydrogen stand at £8/kg.

Achieving these figures would mean green hydrogen would be cost-competitive with blue hydrogen by 2030, which derives from fossil fuel methane combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS).  

Clean hydrogen development can assist the UK in reaching its net-zero emission target quicker. RenewableUK explains that existing CCS technology fails to capture all emissions, with studies suggesting that up to 20% of carbon emissions are released. The UK has already created a leading position in terms of developing and commercialising green hydrogen, referring to the significant trial projects such as the Gigastack project in the Humber. RenewableUK has a targeted project intelligence database which it uses to monitor green hydrogen projects nationwide. 

Green hydrogen can be utilised as a source of zer0-carbon gas for heating homes and factories, as well as large scale transport on land and sea. It also provides the necessary flexibility to support renewable energy systems, as it can be generated using electricity from wind farms and other clean sources when availability is high and then stored for when it is required. The UK can generate green hydrogen from offshore wind farms to drive the process of electrolysis, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

RenewableUK also emphasises the competitive advantage of having two major electrolyser manufacturers, ITM Power and Siemens located in the UK. Recent forecasts suggest that the global hydrogen market will be worth more than $2.5 trillion by 2050. RenewableUK believes the green hydrogen industry could potentially generate £320 billion for the UK economy and create upwards of 250,000 jobs by 2050.

Published in partnership with the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and the Offshore Wind Industry Council, the report believes the UK has the necessary resources, the required offshore wind capacity, industrial base and leading academic research facilities to enable the development of a highly efficient and low-cost green hydrogen industry.

Barnaby Wharton, the director of future electricity systems at RenewableUK believes that renewable hydrogen is the next big industry in the years to come. Wharton explains the UK is capable of leading the industry, with strong availability of resources and the support of worldwide leading hydrogen companies. 

Wharton states that if we can reduce the costs and replicate the success in offshore wind, we can then provide a cheap and effective source of energy for customers nationwide. Wharton stresses that this is an opportunity that needs to be grasped now if the UK wants to remain a leader in renewable energy innovation and capitalise on the economic benefits related to hydrogen. The government needs to show its support by delivering a strategy that secures a core focus on green hydrogen.

In response to the report, the government has stated it intends to release a hydrogen strategy and confirmed it would invest £120 million into researching how hydrogen can be used for heating, transport and industry. The Hydrogen Advisory Council, which combines government and industry members recently met to discuss what actions are required to support and scale hydrogen production in the UK. In a recent statement, the council explained that a strategy is due to be released in the coming months.

 

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Julian Jackson's picture
Julian Jackson on Nov 5, 2020

This is a very positive outlook and one I fully support. I agree that hydrogen is one of the "wedges" we will need to reduce UK carbon emissions - no one technology is sufficient but a series of them should be applied where best suited to the local environment.

Unfortunately, while I live in hope, this current UK government is not very engaged with either industrial strategies or the Green New Deal and is far more interested in financialization and that side of things than actually building sunrise industries in Britain. I hope they will prove me too pessimistic...

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