UK government launches first-ever Hydrogen Strategy

UK government launches first-ever Hydrogen Strategy

The UK’s first-ever Hydrogen Strategy drives forward the commitments laid out in the Prime Minister’s ambitious 10 Point Plan for a green industrial revolution by setting the foundation for how the UK government will work with industry to meet its ambition for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 – the equivalent of replacing natural gas in powering around 3 million UK homes each year as well as powering transport and businesses, particularly heavy industry.

  • First-ever vision to kick start world-leading hydrogen economy set to support over 9,000 UK jobs and unlock £4 billion investment by 2030
  • consultation also launched to look at ways to overcome cost gap between low carbon hydrogen and fossil fuels
  • £105 million in UK government funding provided to support polluting industries to significantly slash their emissions

Tens of thousands of jobs, billions of pounds in investment and new export opportunities will be unlocked through government plans to create a thriving low carbon hydrogen sector in the UK over the next decade and beyond, the Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has set out today (17 August).

A booming, UK-wide hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million and create over 9,000 high-quality jobs by 2030, potentially rising to 100,000 jobs and worth up to £13 billion by 2050. By 2030, hydrogen could play an important role in decarbonising polluting, energy-intensive industries like chemicals, oil refineries, power and heavy transport like shipping, HGV lorries and trains, by helping these sectors move away from fossil fuels. Low-carbon hydrogen provides opportunities for UK companies and workers across our industrial heartlands.

With government analysis suggesting that 20-35% of the UK’s energy consumption by 2050 could be hydrogen-based, this new energy source could be critical to meet our targets of net zero emissions by 2050 and cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 – a view shared by the UK’s independent Climate Change Committee. In the UK, a low-carbon hydrogen economy could deliver emissions savings equivalent to the carbon captured by 700 million trees by 2032 and is a key pillar of capitalising on cleaner energy sources as the UK moves away from fossil fuels.

Business & Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

Today marks the start of the UK’s hydrogen revolution. This home-grown clean energy source has the potential to transform the way we power our lives and will be essential to tackling climate change and reaching Net Zero.

With the potential to provide a third of the UK’s energy in the future, our strategy positions the UK as first in the global race to ramp up hydrogen technology and seize the thousands of jobs and private investment that come with it.

Energy & Climate Change Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

Today’s Hydrogen Strategy sends a strong signal globally that we are committed to building a thriving low carbon hydrogen economy that could deliver hundreds of thousands of high-quality green jobs, helps millions of homes transition to green energy, support our key industrial heartlands to move away from fossil fuels and bring in significant investment.

The government’s approach is based on the UK’s previous success with offshore wind, where early government action coupled with strong private sector backing has earned the UK a world leading status. One of the main tools used by government to support the establishment of offshore wind in the UK was the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme, which incentivises investment in renewable energy by providing developers with direct protection from volatile wholesale prices and protects consumers from paying increased support costs when electricity prices are high.

As such, the government has today launched a public consultation on a preferred hydrogen business model which, built on a similar premise to the offshore wind CfDs, is designed to overcome the cost gap between low carbon hydrogen and fossil fuels, helping the costs of low-carbon alternatives to fall quickly, as hydrogen comes to play an increasing role in our lives. Alongside this, the government is consulting on the design of the £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, which aims to support the commercial deployment of new low carbon hydrogen production plants across the UK.

Other measures included in the UK’s first-ever Hydrogen Strategy include:

  • outlining a ‘twin track’ approach to supporting multiple technologies including ‘green’ electrolytic and ‘blue’ carbon capture-enabled hydrogen production, and committing to providing further detail in 2022 on the government’s production strategy
  • collaborating with industry to develop a UK standard for low carbon hydrogen giving certainty to producers and users that the hydrogen the UK produces is consistent with net zero while supporting the deployment of hydrogen across the country
  • undertaking a review to support the development of the necessary network and storage infrastructure to underpin a thriving hydrogen sector
  • working with industry to assess the safety, technical feasibility, and cost effectiveness of mixing 20% hydrogen into the existing gas supply. Doing so could deliver a 7% emissions reduction on natural gas
  • launching a hydrogen sector development action plan in early 2022 setting out how the government will support companies to secure supply chain opportunities, skills and jobs in hydrogen

CEO of ITM Power Dr Graham Cooley said:

By supporting the creation of a UK home market, today’s announcement is a very welcome step in helping British companies cement their positions as world leaders in hydrogen technology. The industry needs a policy landscape in place that identifies priorities and support mechanisms for rolling out green hydrogen production in the UK and that’s just what today’s Hydrogen Strategy sets out.

Green, zero-carbon hydrogen can abate greenhouse gas emissions from industry, transport and heat. It can be used to store our abundant renewable energy from offshore wind and longer term, be used to create export markets. This is a win for the UK’s decarbonisation plans, a win for cleaner air and a win for British jobs.

Hydrogen Director at National Grid Antony Green said:

The transition to a green economy will require a mix of technologies and hydrogen will play a vital role. This strategy signals the UK’s commitment to hydrogen and provides the certainty needed to boost consumer and investor confidence and support commercial solutions. Importantly, unlocking the potential of hydrogen as a clean energy solution requires significant pace and innovation to scale up production, and the guidance from government today will be key to triggering the investment and buy-in needed to achieve this.

Chief Policy Director at CBI Matthew Fell said:

With hydrogen key to unlocking decarbonisation across carbon-intensive sectors, as well as stimulating high levels of skilled green jobs, the government’s Hydrogen Strategy is a key milestone in the delivery of the UK’s 10 Point Plan.

As a leader in high skilled manufacturing, and with an extensive legacy in energy production, the UK stands perfectly positioned to capitalise on the opportunities provided by hydrogen.

As the countdown to COP26 continues, hydrogen is an area where the UK can lead by example on the global stage, showcasing the value of strong partnerships between government and the private sector on the road to reducing emissions.

Chief Executive at SSE Alistair Phillips-Davies said:

We strongly welcome the publication of this first-ever Hydrogen Strategy and hope to turn this encouraging strategy into firm and rapid action through our exciting plans. These include working with Equinor on the world’s first major hydrogen-fired power station at Keadby and developing hydrogen storage caverns at Aldbrough, as well as our partnership with Siemens Gamesa to co-locate hydrogen production facilities at our wind farms. The strategy is a welcome first step to realising the potential of hydrogen.

Prioritising and supporting polluting industries to significantly slash their emissions, the government also announced today a £105 million funding package through its Net Zero Innovation Portfolio that will act as a first step to build up Britain’s low carbon hydrogen economy. The investment will help industries to develop low carbon alternatives for industrial fuels, including hydrogen, which will be key to meeting climate commitments. This includes:

  • £55 million Industrial Fuel Switching Competition. Funding will support the development and trials of solutions to switch industry from high to low carbon fuels such as natural gas to clean hydrogen, helping industry reach net zero by 2050
  • £40 million Red Diesel Replacement Competition. Providing grant funding for the development and demonstration of low carbon alternatives to diesel for the construction, quarrying and mining sectors, with the aim of decarbonising these industries reliant on red diesel, a fuel used mainly for off-road purposes such as in bulldozers. With red diesel responsible for the production of nearly 14 million tonnes of carbon each year, the investment supports the UK government’s budget announcement removing the entitlement to use red diesel and rebated biodiesel
  • £10 million Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA). Offering funding to clean technology developers to work with industrial sites to install, test and prove solutions for reducing UK industry’s energy and resource consumption

This comes as the Transport Secretary unveils the winners of a £2.5 million R&D competition for hydrogen transport pilots in the Tees Valley area, which will lead to supermarkets, emergency services and delivery companies trialling hydrogen-powered transport to move goods and carry out local services.

Associate Director for the Carbon Trust Paul Huggins said:

The previous rounds of the Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator have seen over £8 million of funding awarded to 16 successful projects. The programme has been instrumental in securing the first industrial demonstration of a wide range of innovative technologies, with the future potential to deliver up to 10 million tonnes of cumulative carbon savings over 10 years.

Seeing these technologies working at scale on site will reduce the barriers to widespread industry adoption of energy saving technologies. We are delighted that BEIS has re-appointed the Carbon Trust and our partners, Jacobs and KTN, to deliver the next round of the IEEA and look forward to supporting the next wave of demonstration projects and further contributing to UK’s industry transition toward net zero.

Hydrogen can be made as safe as natural gas. As the hydrogen economy develops, all necessary assessments will be carried out and measures put in place to ensure that hydrogen is stored, distributed and used in a safe way.

The UK government is already working with the Health and Safety Executive and energy regulator Ofgem to support industry to conduct first-of-a-kind hydrogen heating trials. These trials along with the results of a wider research and development testing programme will inform a UK government decision in 2026 on the role of hydrogen in decarbonising heat. If a positive case is established, by 2035 hydrogen could be playing a significant role in heating people’s homes and businesses, powering cars, cookers, boilers and more – helping to slash carbon emissions from the UK’s heating system and tackle climate change.

Director of Policy at the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) Frank Gordon said:

This Strategy provides welcome clarity. The REA urged the government to provide certainty for investors, deliver a technology neutral approach and highlight the range of low carbon pathways. The Hydrogen Strategy starts to answer those calls and offers a positive vision for the role of hydrogen in meeting the UK’s net zero ambitions.

Backed up by the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, a revenue support scheme for hydrogen production and a standard methodology to define when hydrogen is low carbon, we believe this Strategy can provide a stimulus for British-based hydrogen production over the coming years.

Chief Executive of Energy UK Emma Pinchbeck said:

Hydrogen and CCUS are going to be incredibly valuable for sectors that will be difficult to decarbonise with electricity – and so we welcome that today’s Hydrogen Strategy takes an economy-wide approach to developing these innovative technologies. The UK has real potential for hydrogen and CCUS, both of which can deliver new skilled jobs, particularly in places where the UK already has a proud industrial and energy heritage.

Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group Nick Molho said:

We welcome the consultation on business models to make large-scale low carbon hydrogen production commercially viable and the commitment to develop a robust standard to ensure UK hydrogen production is consistent with the net zero target.

Low carbon hydrogen has a crucial role to play in cutting emissions in complex sectors of the economy, such as long-range road transport and heavy industry in both clustered and dispersed sites. The key to ramping up production and cutting the cost of low carbon hydrogen – including the scaling up of green electrolysis capacity – will be to combine meaningful demonstration projects in sectors such as steel and investment in skills, with rapid clarity on the market mechanisms industry can rely on to make a predictable return on investment.

The Hydrogen Strategy is one of a series of strategies the UK government is publishing ahead of the UN Climate Summit COP26 taking place in Glasgow this November. The UK government has already published its Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, Transport Decarbonisation Strategy and North Sea Transition Deal, while its Heat and Buildings and Net Zero Strategies will be published this year.

Case studies

Across the UK innovative projects are already taking place, kickstarting Britain’s world-leading low carbon hydrogen economy. This includes:

  • In Scotland. The Acorn Hydrogen project located in St Fergus, Aberdeenshire, is taking advantage of existing oil and gas infrastructure to reform North Sea natural gas into low carbon hydrogen with the emissions created from generating the hydrogen, safely removed and stored through carbon capture, usage and storage. The project is being led by Storegga, with funding and support from industry partners including Harbour Energy, Shell, the UK and Scottish Governments and the European Union.
  • In Northern Ireland. The development of hydrogen-powered buses by Wrightbus in Belfast. The company has invested heavily into developing hydrogen fuel cell buses and has received over £8 million over the last four years from Government research and development funding for the automotive sector.
  • In Wales. In Port Talbot a project by Hanson Cement is demonstrating how hydrogen from renewable energy can help decarbonise cement manufacturing.
  • In England. As part of the BEIS-funded HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching Competition, Unilever alongside Progressive Energy are running a trial to switch an onsite natural gas-fired boiler to hydrogen. The boiler, located at Unilever’s Port Sunlight facility on the Wirral, raises steam used for the manufacture of home and personal care products.

A full list of ongoing hydrogen projects across the UK, as well as explainers about what hydrogen is and how it works is available. See the full list of documents published today:

Today’s Hydrogen Strategy package also contains further detail on different ways to produce hydrogen and our technical cost projections of each technology out to 2050, and an annex setting out the analysis and evidence underpinning the Hydrogen Strategy and consultations.

Through the safety workstream of the Hy4heat programme, the UK government has supported work to assess the safe use of hydrogen gas in certain types of domestic properties and buildings, as part of preparation for the first community trials using hydrogen as a heating source.

Further support the UK government is providing for hydrogen projects include:

1. £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund to support new hydrogen production projects;

2. Hydrogen Business Model to stimulate private investment in new low carbon hydrogen projects;

3. Phase 2 of the £315 million Industrial Energy Transformation Fund to support industry to switch to low carbon fuels, including hydrogen;

4. Up to £60 million through the Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply 2 competition to support innovative hydrogen production, transport and storage technologies;

5. £68 million Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration competition;

6. World-leading trials of hydrogen for heating, including a hydrogen neighbourhood trial by 2023, hydrogen village trial by 2025 and potential pilot hydrogen town by the end of the decade;

7. Up to £183 million for transport decarbonisation, including trials and roll-outs of hydrogen technologies for buses, HGV lorries, shipping and aviation, including:

  • up to £120 million this year through the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme towards 4,000 new zero emission buses, either hydrogen or battery electric, and infrastructure needed to support them
  • up to £20 million this year to design trials for both electric road system and hydrogen long haul heavy road vehicles (HGVs) and to run a battery electric trial to establish the feasibility, deliverability, costs and benefits of each technology
  • up to £20 million this year for the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition
  • up to £15 million this year for the ‘Green Fuels, Green Skies’ competition to support the production of first-of-a-kind sustainable aviation fuel plants in the UK
  • £3 million this year to support the development of a Hydrogen Transport Hub in Tees Valley, and £4.8 million (subject to business case) to support the development of a hydrogen hub in Holyhead, Wales

The £95 million UK government funding package and £10 million Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) comes from the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. See details of all 3 competitions, and how to register interest. As part of the £10 million IEEA, the government has awarded £1.7 million to the Carbon Trust to be the delivery partner for the programme.

Powersystems Hydrogen NewsWatch Update June 2021

Powersystems Hydrogen NewsWatch Update June 2021

The Powersystems Renewables NewsWatch provides a roundup of the latest headlines relating to Hydrogen

Earlier this year Powersystems reviewed Green Hydrogen as a renewable energy technology and some of the challenges the sector faces and that pressure has been building to make more of this gas and to use it to move energy in a form that can burn in power plants and steel mills, energize fuel-cell vehicles and generators, and combine with captured carbon dioxide to make liquid fuels or solid plastics.

The UK government’s “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution” was published in November 2020 stating the intention of publishing a hydrogen strategy in 2021. This also set a target of 40 GW of offshore wind generation capacity and 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030, appearing to indicate an intention to play a leading role in European hydrogen development.

The State of the Hydrogen Nation Survey was launched this month by the Hydrogen Strategy Now group (campaign partners include; Vattenfall, Alexander Dennis, EDF, ITM Power, Orsted, Siemens, BOSCH and many more) to analyse the views of industry leaders on the progress and potential of the UK Hydrogen sector to date. The survey advises that the UK could miss out on millions in investments and tens of thousands of jobs in the next decade unless the Government raises its 5 GW Hydrogen target.

More than three-quarters of respondents to Hydrogen Strategy Now’s ‘State of the Hydrogen Nation’ survey said the 5 GW hydrogen production target set out in the PM’s Ten Point Plan is not ambitious enough. And almost half said the lack of a clear Hydrogen Strategy has seen the UK “miss out on valuable investments” into UK hydrogen projects, while 81% said the UK was failing to meet its hydrogen potential.

Around 60% of respondents said they were not confident that the Hydrogen Strategy would create a “world leading” hydrogen market, which the Government has set as its measurement of success. The survey also revealed that industry experts believe that Scotland is far ahead of the other devolved administrations when it comes to hydrogen ambitions.

Hydrogen is Point Two in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. It featured heavily in the Energy White Paper, and there are several major upcoming policy documents that are expected to include significant commitments on hydrogen – the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the Heat and Buildings Strategy, and the Hydrogen Strategy itself.

The global hydrogen race

The global hydrogen race is gathering speed. The global hydrogen economy is estimated to be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050, supporting 30 million jobs. Other nations, such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and China have already set ambitious strategies for growing their hydrogen economies.

Germany joined this list with their own €9 billion hydrogen strategy. Reported last week by the German National Hydrogen Council, it is estimated by the German Fraunhofer Gesellschaft that 80 terawatt hours (TWh) will be needed by 2030, and 400 to 800 TWh by 2050. The demand for Hydrogen will be even greater than previously assumed and reported.

The European Commission is also creating an EU hydrogen strategy, which includes plans for multi-billion-euro investment in hydrogen projects, and schemes to boost sales of hydrogen electric vehicles.

Last year, the EU and 15 other countries published hydrogen plans. At least $300bn is expected to be invested globally over the next decade by the public and private sectors, with some even projecting that hydrogen could meet almost a fifth of global energy demand. The potential reward is great. By strategically placing, in the PM’s words, a “big bet” on hydrogen now, the UK can create thousands of highly skilled green jobs, attract investment and unlock large scale export opportunities, increase energy security and position itself world leader in a future $2.5tr hydrogen economy. However, many other nations are also alert to this Net Zero and economic opportunity and are moving fast to position themselves at the front of the global hydrogen race

Next Steps

The race to lead this industry has started, evidenced by the billions being invested into hydrogen by Governments across the world. As Baroness Brown, vice chair of the Committee on Climate Change, stated at the launch of the Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign, “the UK missed the boat on wind technology and missed the boat on batteries. We can ‘t afford to miss the boat on hydrogen”.

Britain can win the race for hydrogen supremacy if it faces down competition from Japan

Japan has made an unprecedented commitment to hydrogen power as an alternative energy source, investing US$19.2 billion in the technology in new funding alone. As first out of the starting blocks, Japan has staked its claim as the world leader in the industry. We are at a critical juncture, however, and there is a golden window of opportunity for the UK to become a serious hydrogen player.

The hydrogen strategy in Japan is bold and far-reaching. So, how can the UK match Japan’s efforts and become the pre-eminent hydrogen world power? There are a host of simple policies which must be implemented as soon as possible in order to steal a march on the competition.

First of all, we need mechanisms to incentivise hydrogen vehicles, along with a similar incentive for each kilogram of hydrogen sold. This can be quickly achieved through the liberalisation of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which has recently gone out for public consultation. Looking further, we hope the hydrogen strategy will enable the development of a more refined scheme, such as potentially contracts for difference.

The government must throw its support behind hydrogen trains, as being achieved currently in the EU (we reported in last month’s NewsWatch with the very first orders for dual powered hydrogen-electric trains in France ) and back the mass deployment of hydrogen buses, again it was announced this week that London is the first city in England to put hydrogen-powered double-decker buses on the streets after a new fleet was launched this week. Transport for London (TfL) yesterday added 20 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell buses to the 500 electric buses already in service in London, hopefully this will kick-start investment in UK-made buses as well as stimulate hydrogen production.

The hydrogen-power construction of the nuclear power station, Sizewell C should be a blueprint for the future of construction, one of the most emissions-heavy industries in the UK. All of these policies have the ability to accelerate progress to net zero, stimulate private investment and create jobs across the United Kingdom, with minimal taxpayer spend.

Hydrogen electric vehicles – Pros and Cons

Hopium unveils its hydrogen-powered sedan prototype and opens the first 1000 pre-orders

Hopium the new French manufacturer of hydrogen powered sedans, unveils its very first rolling prototype during the ‘Viva Technology’ week in Paris. This high-end vehicle, aims to be the first French-powered sedan to hit the market in 2026. The Machina prototype will be equipped with a 700-bar Type IV vessel made by Plastic Omnium in its Herenatls plant (Belgium).

Announced in October 2020 and produced in record time in the Linas-Montlhéry test workshop, this vehicle called Alpha 0, certifies the reliability of the fuel cell system. After the design and architecture phases, followed by the implementation of the various components within the vehicle, the prototype was able to be evaluated and perfected through bench and track tests. With a speed of 200 km/h (124 mph), this test version already borders on the performance promised by the Hopium Machina in its final form. Alpha 0 also introduces for the first time the signature lighting, emblem of Hopium, whose shape is reminiscent of the stratification of hydrogen and the movement of waves on the surface of water. The Hopium teams are already fully committed in carrying out the next steps, aiming to produce Hopium Machina on an industrial scale, with a new rendez-vous expected in the first quarter of 2022.

The Inherent problem with Hydrogen Cars

According to European non-governmental organisation Transport & Environment, for every 100kWh of renewable electricity, you get 77kWh of useable energy from a battery EV (BEV), but only 30kWh in a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV). A green-hydrogen-powered EV therefore requires more than two-and-a-half times the amount of electricity as a BEV.

One of the arguments in favour of FCEVs is that they can be filled up like petrol or diesel vehicles, eliminating the range anxiety associated with EVs — presuming that H2 fuelling will be widely available. It is also argued that they will be easier than BEVs for drivers who do not have easy access to a charging point, such as those who live in apartments or do not have a driveway.

But as Volkswagen recently pointed out, while explaining its decision to focus on BEVs, FCEVs will always be a more expensive option, and their perceived advantages will soon be undermined. “With the battery-powered e-car, driving remains affordable. Current e-models are already at the price level of comparable combustion engine models. “In contrast, the hydrogen car will always remain more expensive than the battery car – due to the complex technology and high fuel costs. Drivers already pay around €9-12 per 100km for a hydrogen car, while battery cars cost only €2-7 per 100km (depending on electricity prices in individual countries). And the topic of long-distance travel? That will soon no longer play a role. With the new generation of e-cars, ranges will increase to 400km to 600km, while charging will become increasingly faster.”

Blow to clean hydrogen sector as major truck maker rules out H2 for long distance transport

Volkswagen-owned Scania, which has produced both battery- and hydrogen-powered vehicles, has concluded that H2 will be too inefficient and expensive for long-distance transport. “Scania has invested in hydrogen technologies and is currently the only heavy-duty vehicle manufacturer with vehicles in operations with customers. However, going forward the use of hydrogen for such applications will be limited since three times as much renewable electricity is needed to power a hydrogen truck compared to a battery electric truck. A great deal of energy is namely lost in the production, distribution, and conversion back to electricity,” the Swedish manufacturer said in a statement. Scania’s aim is to be the leader in the shift towards a sustainable transport system. Battery electric vehicles will be the main tool to drive this shift and to enable decarbonised transport solutions with better transport economy to customers.”

China to spend billions on hydrogen vehicles despite a minimal supply of clean H2

Concerns have been raised in China that an investment boom in technology and infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered vehicles risks being undermined because of insufficient supplies of clean H2. Incentivised by government subsidies, 35 projects related to fuel cells, fuel-cell vehicles and hydrogen refuelling stations worth a combined 110bn yuan ($17bn) have been signed in China in the first five months of 2021. Most of these plans have involved investment in the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and refilling stations, which can be built a lot more cheaply and faster than large-scale hydrogen production projects. However, few have thought about where the Hydrogen supply will come from. Read more here

Embryonic markets and rapid growth of key technologies

Wind could produce affordable green hydrogen by 2030

Wind power could make it possible to produce hydrogen without emitting greenhouse gases as cheaply as is currently feasible with fossil fuel energy by 2030, turbine maker Siemens Gamesa (SGREN.MC) said in a white paper released on June 9. Using onshore wind turbines to power electrolysers that extract hydrogen from water could become as cheap as making it using fossil fuels by 2030, and offshore wind could get there by 2035, Siemens Gamesa said. It also said it would only be possible to bring down the cost of green hydrogen and boost production if government and industry speed up building renewable capacity, developing a supply chain and supporting infrastructure. “We can’t underestimate the challenge of producing green hydrogen at the scale needed to deliver on the 2050 net zero targets,” it said. Electrolysers and battery storage can be added to existing wind farms, and sites near places that demand hydrogen can also start to produce it, the company said. Siemens Gamesa, which dominates the global market for offshore wind turbines, said it is speeding up work on a prototype system to produce hydrogen powered by offshore wind in the next five years. read more

Europe on track for 2.7GW of hydrogen electrolyser capacity by 2025

The total announced project capacity within the European hydrogen electrolyser market would take the green hydrogen sector to 2.7 GW by 2025 – a nearly 50-fold increase on capacity built over the last ten years. This is according to research conducted by Delta-EE’s new Global Hydrogen Intelligence Service, the study indicates that over the past decade, project activity around clean hydrogen has been growing quickly, with 67 operational projects including electrolysers, offering a total capacity of 56MW, developed across 13 different countries. These projects produce an estimated 4,700 tonnes of green hydrogen per year, with approximately half of this consumed by the transport industry and approximately one third used for decarbonising industrial applications, such as petrochemical refining.

The study found that currently nearly half of all European electrolyser capacity is in Germany, while no other country has more than 10MW installed. However, the sector is expanding fast; the first major projects in several countries (e.g. Spain, Netherlands, Denmark) will be at the 10s of MW scale in 2021/22 and will soar towards the 100s MW by 2025. A key factor in this growth will be the increase in manufacturing capacity of electrolyser manufacturers.

Light hearted updates on Hydrogen

For the first time, the Eiffel Tower in Paris has been lit up by electricity produced from certified renewable hydrogen.

The hydrogen, supplied by Air Liquide, lit up the Tower for a laser show during the Paris de l’hydrogène event organised by Energy Observer. The event is showcasing the potential role of hydrogen in France’s green recovery, as well as raising awareness of the energy transition in general.

I’m lovin it: McDonald’s Switzerland ships its Big Mac ingredients in a green hydrogen truck

McDonald’s Big Mac and hydrogen; probably not two things you were expecting to read in a sentence today. But ingredients for the famous hamburger and other products were shipped to a McDonald’s restaurant in Switzerland in a green hydrogen truck last month. Logistics company Havi said it transported the goods from its centre in Oensingen, Solothurn to the McDonald’s site in Crissier, Vaud – and it called the journey a world first. Boasting a range of 400km, this hydrogen truck runs quietly as well as emission-free; refuelling with green hydrogen created using renewable energies takes just 10 minutes.


Read more about building the clean electrification at the heart of the global decarbonisation strategy, the UK’s first Hydrogen town and New Hydrogen Collaborations and Pathways in Aprils’ Hydrogen review.

Read more about Net Zero by 2050, the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, Five T a private hydrogen infrastructure fund as well as Hydrogen trains, planes and automobiles in May’s Hydrogen review






Powersystems Hydrogen NewsWatch Update May 2021

Powersystems Hydrogen NewsWatch Update May 2021

The Powersystems Renewables NewsWatch provides a roundup of the latest headlines relating to Hydrogen

Powersystems recently reviewed Green Hydrogen as a renewable energy technology and some of the challenges the sector faces and that pressure has been building to make more of this gas and to use it to move energy in a form that can burn in power plants and steel mills, energize fuel-cell vehicles and generators, and combine with captured carbon dioxide to make liquid fuels or solid plastics.

Hydrogen the magical gas that Jules Verne predicted in 1874 would one day be used as fuel is now beginning to get the long struggled attention it deserves, it is lighter than air, more common than carbon, and burns with a bang into a puff of pure water vapor. Some see it as an essential element in decarbonizing electricity, transportation, and even big industry.  However, A net-zero world ‘would require 306 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2050 derived from renewable energy each year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report, Net Zero by 2050 – A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.

Now in 2021, the world may be starting to get ready for hydrogen

This gas is capturing the attention of governments and private sector players, fueled by new tech, global green energy legislation, post-pandemic “green recovery” schemes and the growing consensus that action must be taken to combat climate change.

The UK government’s “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution” was published in November 2020 stating the intention of publishing a hydrogen strategy in 2021. This also set a target of 40 GW of offshore wind generation capacity and 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030, appearing to indicate an intention to play a leading role in European hydrogen development.

The European Clean Hydrogen Alliance forecasts public and private sectors will invest €430 billion in hydrogen in the continent by 2030 in a massive push to meet emissions targets. Globally, the hydrogen generation industry is expected to grow to $201 billion by 2025 from $130 billion in 2020

Announced April, 8 Independent asset manager FiveT Capital Holding have launched a private infrastructure fund, FiveT Hydrogen Fund, dedicated to delivering clean hydrogen infrastructure projects at scale. The Euro-denominated Fund intends to raise a total of $1,189 billion (€1 billion) from a combination of financial and industrial investors. It will make largely minority co-investments into greenfield projects with key industrial players.

Hydrogen around the world

An eye-opening story in the Wall Street Journal described Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion plan to build a car-free megacity, complete with a $5 billion green-hydrogen plant, in a currently uninhabitable swath of its northwestern desert. The story also reports that Australia is considering an equally bold, $36 billion-project to construct 26 gigawatts of wind and solar generation in its arid western state to power production of green hydrogen for export as well as domestic use.

Japan and other nations are touting hydrogen production as a near-term priority and a major element in their long-term plans to decarbonize their economies. In a recent seven-part series on “The race to scale-up green hydrogen,” the Financial Times examined some of the 228 large hydrogen projects—involving $300 billion in capital investment—that have been announced.

A Hydrogen Strategy Steering Committee has been launched in Canada to establish priorities, guide actions, share knowledge and track results to deliver on recommendations outlined in the country’s Hydrogen Strategy.

Uzbekistan has approved a presidential decree to establishing a strategy to boost development of renewable and hydrogen energy.  The decree outlines measures to support the introduction of innovative technologies to develop hydrogen and renewable energy sources, build hydrogen infrastructure to promote energy efficiency and security, and enable Uzbekistan’s transition to a green economy.

In Scandinavia, as part of Everfuel’s green hydrogen fuelling strategy, plans have been unveiled for 15 new hydrogen stations to be developed across Sweden by the end of 2023. Such network will comprise of sites developed by Everfuel, as well as stations in the partly EU funded Nordic Hydrogen Corridor initiative, developed in collaboration with the project partners Statkraft, Toyota, Hyundai and Hydrogen Sweden. Under its Scandinavian green hydrogen fuelling strategy, Everfuel hopes to connect the main traffic corridors in Sweden, Norway and Denmark with hydrogen stations.

In Spain, bp, Iberdrola and Enagás plan to develop the largest green hydrogen project in the region of Valencia. The project would be located in the bp refinery in Castellón, where a 20-megawatt (MW) electrolyser will be built, powered by renewable energy produced, among other sources, by a 40 MW photovoltaic plant. In later stages, the electrolysis capacity could be ramped up to 115 MW, becoming the largest green hydrogen project in the refining sector in Spain

A new 1.5 MWth pilot plant is being built at Cranfield University to test an innovative hydrogen production technology that substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions.  The HyPER project (Bulk Hydrogen Production by Sorbent Enhanced Steam Reforming) is an international collaboration led by Cranfield University with £7.4 million funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) £505m Energy Innovation Programme.

Hydrogen for travelling

By 2035, there are no sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars, and by 2040, the global electricity sector has already reached net-zero emissions.

Currently for road transport, the two most promising alternatives to petrol and diesel are electricity and hydrogen. While battery-electric vehicles dominate media attention, companies such as BMW is to pilot a small series of BMW i Hydrogen NEXT fuel cell vehicles in 2022, based on the German manufacturer’s current BMW X5. Drawing on experience from BMW’s fifth generation of e-drives, the vehicle will be equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell e-drive system.

Van Hool, Hyundai, Siemens and Toyota are working on the production of hydrogen-powered buses, lorries, trains and cars. The the European Commission, governments and cities have long believed that hydrogen is essential to achieving zero emissions in public transport and reducing air pollution.

For example, Paris, Mexico City and Amsterdam plan to replace their current buses and lorries with hydrogen or battery-powered models as early as 2025. Similarly, DHL, Budweiser and the French postal system (La Poste) are adopting hydrogen-powered road transport solutions. However, current hydrogen production is almost entirely powered by fossil fuels, with only 4% of energy coming from renewable sources. Decarbonization of the global transport sector requires a substantial increase in hydrogen production. One of the advantages hydrogen has over battery-powered cars is the speed of refuelling, which is the same as for petrol-powered vehicles, as is the range.

Due to its volume, currently hydrogen fuel is not well-suited to short-distance passenger vehicles but the renewable energy source is ideal for vehicles above 3.5 tons, such as lorries, buses and coaches, and vehicles requiring high availability such as gritters and emergency vehicles.

In the near term, with a major push to accelerate innovation a hydrogen hyper car is being developed in the UK.  Coming in 2023 A hydrogen-powered hypercar, according to British start-up Viritech will be launched called the Apricale. Due to go into limited production in two years’ time, its job is to kickstart the nascent company’s journey to becoming “the world’s leading developer of hydrogen powertrain solutions for the automotive, aerospace, marine and distributed power industries”.

Apriciale comes from the Latin word ‘apricus’, which means to be ‘touched by the sun’. Viritech says it’ll be “half the weight of its battery competitors” thanks mainly to a clever new kind of hydrogen storage tank made from graphene composite and integrated into the hypercar’s structure. Just 25 examples will be built beginning in 2023, with between eight and 12 cars finished per year.

Flying with hydrogen

The use of hydrogen in transport is constantly evolving in all mobility sectors. In the air travel sector, for example, at the end of September, European engineering giant Airbus announced plans to make aviation travel emissions-free by 2020 with ZEROe. As reported by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, “Passenger air travel is producing the highest and fastest growth of individual emissions despite a significant improvement in efficiency of aircraft and flight operations over the last 60 years”. According to AirBus, the ZEROe concept can pave the way for greener air travel, reducing the aviation industry’s carbon footprint by upwards of 50%.

Hydrogen on the Tracks

The rail transport sector is also heading for a major breakthrough in decarbonization.  Countries seeking ways to transport people while reducing the emissions of climate-changing gasses are looking at trains powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

One of the first trains of this kind is Alstom’s Coradia iLint, now being tested in many countries. The trains are equipped with fuel cells to convert hydrogen and oxygen from air into electricity and have a range of approximately 1,000 km, according to the company.

The very first orders for dual powered hydrogen-electric trains in France have been placed this week, in what represents a significant advancement in the technology which could revolutionise sustainable transport.  Acting on behalf of the regions of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est and Occitanie, SNCF Voyageurs has placed an order with manufacturer Alstom for the first 12 dual mode hydrogen-electric trains (plus two optional trainsets) in a contract worth a total of almost €190 million.

“France has everything it needs to become a hydrogen champion: the French government is fully committed to turning this ambition into reality. We will be covering 47 million euros of development costs for France’s first regional hydrogen-powered train. I am delighted that this support has enabled the four partner regions to confirm their order for the first 14 trains,” said Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister Delegate for Transport, French Ministry of the Ecological Transition.

Read more about building the clean electrification at the heart of the global decarbonisation strategy, the UKs first Hydrogen town and New Hydrogen Collaborations and Pathways in last months Hydrogen review.
















Powersystems Hydrogen NewsWatch Update April 2021

Powersystems Hydrogen NewsWatch Update April 2021

The Powersystems Renewables NewsWatch provides a roundup of the latest headlines relating to Hydrogen

Earlier this month Powersystems reviewed Green Hydrogen as a renewable energy technology and some of the challenges the sector faces.

Unlike the EU and several European countries (e.g. Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands), the UK does not yet have a national hydrogen strategy. In its latest progress report to Parliament, the UK Committee on Climate Change recommended that the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy develop a hydrogen strategy by 1H 2021, aiming for large scale hydrogen trials to begin in the early 2020s.

The UK government’s “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution” was published in November 2020 stating the intention of publishing a hydrogen strategy in 2021. This also set a target of 40 GW of offshore wind generation capacity and 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030, appearing to indicate an intention to play a leading role in European hydrogen development.

In December 2020, the Scottish Government produced a “Hydrogen Assessment” setting out three possible scenarios for hydrogen production in Scotland including the potential for exports. This assessment is expected to lead to a Hydrogen Action plan and Hydrogen Policy Statement for Scotland.

Sustainable hydrogen will be an important contributor to the decarbonisation of the economy, but it will need support. Burning fossil fuels results in carbon pollution. However, energy-efficiency, renewables, waste and green hydrogen are ways to secure a more economically stable and natural world.

Making the market involves ensuring that sustainable hydrogen has a future in the UK and around the globe. Government and industry need to work alongside each other to create a robust market space and clear road maps for its consumption, infrastructure for its production and storage, and financial markets that offer the services and expertise needed for investment and trade.

Powersystems see the near-term decarbonisation of regional aviation, shipping, rail, infrastructure, heating, major heavy industries and building the UK’s first Hydrogen town as first steps and catalyst, setting the whole industry on a path to meeting Paris Agreement emissions targets.

Clean electrification must be at the heart of the global decarbonisation strategy

There are some sectors where direct electrification is likely to be impossible or prohibitively expensive, and hydrogen will play a key role in decarbonising these. In some sectors where direct electrification is likely to be impossible or prohibitively expensive, hydrogen must be produced in a zero-carbon fashion via electrolysis using zero-carbon electricity, green hydrogen or in a low-carbon fashion using natural gas reforming plus CCS, blue hydrogen, if deployed in a manner that achieves near-total CO2 capture and very low methane leakage. Blue hydrogen will often be cost-effective during the early stages of the transition, particularly where existing grey hydrogen, production can be adapted and retrofitted with CCS. But, in the long-term, green hydrogen will very likely be the cheaper option in most locations, with dramatic cost reductions to below $2/kg possible during the 2020s.

Green Hydrogen will be cost competitive by 2030

Following Powersystems review Climate think-tank Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) has set out the future roles and pathways for clean hydrogen. They advise that the cost of green hydrogen is expected to see “dramatic cost reductions” this decade as the cost of renewable energy and electrolysers fall — to the point where it can compete with grey hydrogen even without a carbon price. In many locations around the globe the future cost of green hydrogen could be below today’s grey hydrogen cost, making the eventual cost of decarbonising hydrogen production very small and potentially even negative.

 Storage will be vital for hydrogen to help solve renewable energy’s big challenges

The world is moving into a Hydrogen economy led by developed economies and the pace looks quite fast. In the most advanced countries, they are setting mid to long term plans. At the close of the first quarter in 2021, over 30 countries have released energy road maps and more than 200 large scale projects have been announced along the value chain.  In the new Green economy the approach is to use hydrogen as an energy carrier to store large amounts of surplus renewable energy for long periods of time and even to export renewable energy to different geographies. Without long term storage renewable capacity above a certain threshold would not be efficient to build.

The inherent variability of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar presents a pressing need for large scale storage of clean electricity. Storing hydrogen gas has become one of the most pertinent research and development areas surrounding hydrogen technology, and will be the key to mainstream adoption.

  • Major UK CCS, hydrogen project makes headway, Based at the St Fergus gas terminal in North East Scotland, the Acorn CCS and hydrogen project is expected to be storing at least 5m tons a year of CO2 by 2030, half the emissions aimed by the UK government.

Building the UK’s first Hydrogen town

Building the UK’s first hydrogen town is not just about replacing the natural gas that most of our homes rely upon today; it’s about reducing our carbon emissions in a safe and secure way. The five companies – which together own and operate around £24bn of energy infrastructure – will also help deliver a network of hydrogen refuelling facilities for zero emissions heavy good vehicles. In addition, Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan lays out proposals to connect renewables production, carbon capture and storage and hydrogen use for industrial SuperPlaces, helping deliver two clusters by the mid-2020s and two more by 2030.

  • Octopus Energy reveals plans to expand into green hydrogen  
  • A heritage railway is aiding with work to convert a diesel engine to run on hydrogen power
  • First Round-the-World Hydrogen-Powered Vessel Journeys on Quest for Zero-Emission Shipping Industry
  • An innovative new hydrogen-powered catamaran concept is here to show that seafarers can traverse all corners of the globe without releasing any harmful emissions
  • A new unique collaboration aligning the supply and demand side of the hydrogen sector has been launched today (22 April) to drive development of a hydrogen mobility supply chain globally
  • Will Sweden lead the way in hydrogen-powered steelmaking?

 New Hydrogen Collaborations and Pathways

While the probability is high that some countries, such as Germany or Italy, will import hydrogen in the long term, other countries, such as United Kingdom, France or Spain, could become hydrogen exporters. The reasons for this are the higher potential for renewable energies but also a technology-neutral approach on the supply side. Contrasting European hydrogen pathways is an analysis of differing approached in key markets, the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI), together with the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES), analysed what the economic and political parameters relevant to a future hydrogen economy look like in the six European countries Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and the UK.


Hydrogen Initiative in Hamburg unveils 100 MW electrolyser plan

Hamburg Port Authority and other 11 other companies have teamed to form the  Hamburg Green Hydrogen Hub, which comprises Shell, Vattenfall, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Warme Hamburg, to form a new network. This collaboration sets to deliver an ambitious green hydrogen network that includes the plan for 100 MW electrolyser. As of 2026, the network partners’ projects could reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Hamburg by 170,000 tonnes each year.




North Sea Green Hydrogen pipeline, one of the current Top 20 projects

GASCADE, Gasunie, RWE, and Shell have signed a declaration of intent regarding a pipeline for green hydrogen from offshore wind in the North Sea. As part of the AquaVentus intiative, the venture contributes to efforts to install 10 GW of electrolysis for green hydrogen derived from offshore wind between Heligoland and the Dogger sand bank.  According to the partners, the project’s economic advantages are “clear”: “The pipeline will replace five High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission systems, which would otherwise have to be built. It is by far the most cost-effective option for transporting large volumes of energy over distances of more than 400 kilometres.”





French, Russian hydrogen partnership announced

This week (27, April) EDF Group and Rosatom have signed an agreement to jointly promote clean hydrogen projects in Russia and Europe. Rosatom said development of hydrogen technologies has an important role to play in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, aimed at keeping the global average temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100.








Vattenfall and Tevva collaborate to develop zero-emission solution for commercial vehicles

Vattenfall and Tevva collaborate to develop zero-emission solution for commercial vehicles

Electric truck company Tevva, and Vattenfall, an energy infrastructure company, have signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) to provide a complete zero-emission transport solution for businesses that wish to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations.

Tevva specializes in developing long-range zero-emission truck capabilities, while Vattenfall Network Solutions provides a ‘power-as-a-service’ model that supplies businesses with an energy infrastructure as a service rather than an expensive asset to invest in, own and maintain. Vattenfall operates 22,000 electric vehicle charging points in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.

The two companies are exploring ways to provide a complete zero-emission transport solution for businesses. This will involve the supply of energy infrastructure and sustainable electricity and hydrogen supply solutions, alongside Tevva’s long-range electric vehicles. Vattenfall will provide connections to the electricity grid along with the electric and hydrogen infrastructure needed for a vehicle fleet or depot.

Tevva’s technology consists of a range extender that enables 7.5- to 19-ton, Class 5 to 8 commercial vehicles. The electric trucks draw the majority of their energy from the grid, with a hydrogen fuel cell for range extension.

Green Hydrogen A Renewable Energy Technology

Green Hydrogen A Renewable Energy Technology

Powersystems reviews Green Hydrogen as a renewable energy technology and some of the challenges the sector faces as we wait for the Hydrogen Strategy publication from the UK Government this year.

Hydrogen is the lightest element of the periodic table and the most common substance in the world.  It can be used as feedstock, fuel or energy carrier and does not emit CO2 when burnt, that is why you often hear about its high potential for decarbonising the economy.

Now, as nations come forward with net-zero strategies to align with their international climate targets, hydrogen has once again risen up the agenda for the UK and Australia through to Germany and Japan.

Potentially hydrogen could soon power trucks, planes and ships. It could heat homes, balance electricity grids and help heavy industry to make everything from steel to cement.

But doing all these things with hydrogen would require staggering quantities of the fuel, which is only as clean as the methods used to produce it. Moreover, for every potentially transformative application of hydrogen, there are unique challenges that must be overcome.

In order to meet the 2050 decarbonisation policies and targets, the UK requires deployment of new technologies in traditional roles. One of these is the innovative technology around the uses of Green Hydrogen.

What is Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is an explosive and clean-burning gas. Since the weight of hydrogen is less than air, it rises in the atmosphere and is therefore rarely found in its pure form, (H2).

In a flame of pure hydrogen gas, burning in air, the hydrogen (H2) reacts with oxygen (O2) to form water (H2O) and releases energy.

The energy released enables hydrogen to act as a fuel. This energy can be used with relatively high efficiency.

Hydrogen can be made by splitting water with electricity (electrolysis) or by splitting fossil fuels or biomass with heat or steam, using “reforming” or “pyrolysis”. Any CO2 can be captured and stored.

Hydrogen can be stored, liquified and transported via pipelines, trucks or ships. And it can be used to make fertiliser, fuel vehicles, heat homes, generate electricity or drive heavy industry.

Hydrogen is usually considered an energy carrier, like electricity, as it must be produced from a primary energy source.

In a hydrogen economy, hydrogen would be used in place of fossil fuels, which currently provide four-fifths of the world’s energy supply and emit the bulk of global greenhouse gas emissions. This could aid climate goals because hydrogen only emits water when burned and can be made without releasing CO2.

What is blue hydrogen?

Blue hydrogen is when natural gas is split into hydrogen and CO2 either by Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) or Auto Thermal Reforming (ATR), but the CO2 is captured and then stored. As the greenhouse gasses are captured, this mitigates the environmental impacts on the planet. Simply put, hydrogen is considered blue when the emissions generated from the steam process are captured and stored underground via industrial carbon capture and storage (CSS).

What is brown/black hydrogen?

Brown hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels and currently accounts for around 95 per cent of global production. The oldest way of producing hydrogen is by transforming coal into gas. This gasification process converts fossil-based materials into carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen. Gasification is achieved at incredible high temperatures without combustion, with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam. The carbon monoxide then reacts with water to form carbon dioxide and more hydrogen via a water-gas shift reaction.

Generated via coal gasification syngas and hydrogen can be separated from the other elements using absorbers. It is the result of a highly polluting process since both CO2 and carbon monoxide cannot be reused and are released in the atmosphere.

What is Pink hydrogen?

Hydrogen obtained from electrolysis through nuclear energy is coloured pink.

Hydrogen from Biomass

Hydrogen can also be produced from Biomass via gasification. Depending on the type of biomass but also on the use of carbon capture and storage technologies net carbon emissions can be lower using these technologies

What is green hydrogen?

Green hydrogen is produced using electricity generated from renewables such as solar energy, biomass, electricity (e.g., in the form of solar PV or via wind turbines), instead of fossil fuels. And currently accounts for 1% of overall hydrogen production.

Green hydrogen has the potential to provide clean power for manufacturing, transportation, and more — and its only by-product is water. With green hydrogen, zero carbon emissions are produced. It is in essence the gold standard of hydrogen in the clean energy sector.

Why is green hydrogen a big deal?

Green hydrogen is one of several potential low-carbon fuels that could take the place of today’s fossil hydrocarbons. Admittedly, hydrogen is far from ideal as a fuel. Its low density makes it hard to store and move around. And its flammability can be a problem.

However, the case for hydrogen is clear; the UK requires a zero-emission fuel that is well understood, has extensive regulations and standards in place, is readily scalable and which can be used across multiple energy vectors. Hydrogen is that fuel. In the next decade alone, research by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking  (FCH JU) indicates that hydrogen could reduce CO2 emissions by 1.7 million to 6.3 million tonnes by 2030, supporting the further deployment of 1,800 MW to 9 GW of wind and 830 MW to 4 GW of solar.

There are major technical and economic hurdles to meeting the UK’s Net Zero goals without hydrogen, particularly for heating and transport applications

The country’s gas grid supplies 3x more energy than the electricity grid today, and the transport sector accounted for over 1/3rd of final energy consumption in 2019. While there is significant renewable power generation potential in the UK, notably from offshore wind, electrifying all heating and transport is likely to be an unsurmountable challenge by 2050. Mass electrification would require and overhaul of the current energy system, and massive scale up of batteries, improved transmission systems and smart metering. Alternatively, hydrogen can be integrated into current energy distribution and end-use systems, and utilize high renewables potential in the UK by converting green electrons into green molecules, that can be widely transported and stored seasonally. Mechanisms to store significant volumes of energy are important for coping with extreme environmental events.

Hydrogen is already widely used by industry, so technical problems to storage and transport are not insurmountable. The opportunity for green hydrogen to be applied across a wide range of sectors means there is a large number of companies looking at harnessing and benefiting from a hydrogen fuel economy. The most significant of these are the oil and gas firms (who are increasingly facing the calls to cut back on fossil fuel production). Big oil’s interest in green hydrogen could be critical in getting the fuel through to commercial viability. Cutting the cost of green hydrogen production will require massive investment and massive scale, something the oil majors are uniquely positioned to provide.

Green hydrogen projects and pathways 

Hydrogen offers a pathway to revitalise manufacturing capabilities in the UK and improve the skill base for workers. The UK was a leader in discovering hydrogen and creating fuel cells, and today has several world leading manufacturers and supply chain businesses that with the right support could become global leaders and engines of economic growth for the UK economy. Using hydrogen, the UK could also become a global Centre of Excellence for hydrogen mobility and transport across land, maritime and aviation sectors.

  • A recent report published by Powersystems highlights that hydrogen produced with renewable electricity could compete on costs with fossil fuel alternatives by 2030
  • UK regions are taking steps to capture the scale of the hydrogen opportunity. Scotland has pro-actively driven hydrogen investment and support for regional initiatives, including the BIG HIT project in the Orkneys, this multi-partner plan involves the Port of Cromarty Firth together with SHFCA members ScottishPower (ScottishPower has created a new business division dedicated to delivering green hydrogen) and Pale Blue Dot, as well as other partners including Scotch whisky producers Glenmorangie, Whyte and Mackay and Diageo. This new green hydrogen hub in the Highlands will see Scotland leading the way for the integration and deployment of hydrogen technology and decarbonisation of local industry.
  • Britain’s largest “green” hydrogen production facility is to be built on the outskirts of Glasgow under plans unveiled by ScottishPower. The energy group has submitted a planning application for a 20 megawatt electrolyser next to the UK’s largest onshore wind farm at Whitelee. The electrolyser will use surplus renewable electricity from the wind farm as well as power from a proposed new 40 megawatt solar farm and a 50 megawatt battery storage project to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • ScottishPower, through its recently launched Green Hydrogen Business, has signed an agreement with Global Energy Group at their Port of Nigg site to work together to identify processes and plant that could be powered by green hydrogen.
  • The H100 Fife project is designed to be a real life test of the use of hydrogen for heating homes. The idea is to build a facility in Levenmouth, Fife, that will use offshore wind power to generate hydrogen from electrolysers.
  • In Wales, the government has recently launched a consultation on developing the hydrogen energy sector in Wales
  • Across the country, local businesses in East Anglia are partnering with LEPs and local councils to assess opportunities to leverage the region’s rich offshore wind experience to accelerate the hydrogen transition.
  • Announced in February and March 2021, The National Grid currently has two UK Projects underway; FutureGrid, which is trialling hydrogen mixes in off-grid pipelines and Project Union, which is exploring the development of a UK hydrogen ‘backbone’ joining together industrial clusters around the country.
  • Equinor and SSE Thermal have unveiled plans to develop a 100% hydrogen-fuelled power station in the UK’s Humber region – and it’s believed to be a world first.
  • Powersystems recently reported on the global race to produce hydrogen offshore. Wind generation reached its highest ever level, at 17.2GW on 18 December 2020, while wind power achieved its biggest share of UK electricity production, at 60% on 26 August 2020. Yet occasionally the huge offshore wind farms pump out far more electricity than the UK needs. What if you could use wind energy to make hydrogen?
Is the UK late to the green hydrogen party?

Given that on the 8 July 2020, the road map was unveiled by the European Union to promote green hydrogen “as a key priority to achieve the European Green deal and Europe’s clean energy transition.” It is seen as a technology which can bridge the gap between electricity production from renewable energy and the goal of decarbonising a large share of the EU’s energy.

Similar policy developments are underway in the likes of Australia, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Germany, France, Portugal and the US – the pressure is on ministers to ensure that the UK makes early preparations to become a competitive exporter in the sector.

Presently we can only look at promises made as part of the Ten Point plan for a green industrial revolution announced in November 2020. The UK Government expects that driving the growth of low carbonhydrogen could deliver over GBP 4 billion of private investment in the period up to 2030. The UK Hydrogen strategy was due in March 2021

  • The Nuclear Industry Council (NIC) and Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) published a roadmap outlining how the UK could co-locate electrolysis at 12-13GW of nuclear reactors. This commitment could enable the production of 75 TWh of green hydrogen by 2050, the bodies claim
  • The UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, has also published a roadmap this month, detailing a potential trajectory for the sector through to 2050. The roadmap has been backed by business giants including Rolls Royce and ITM Power and explores how the UK could target 80GW of green hydrogen capacity by 2050.
  • Powersystems recently shared on what we need to know about hydrogen on climate change and decarbonisation in the UK ahead of COP26 In November 2021
What about hydrogen vehicles?

Alongside oil and gas firms, renewable developers see green hydrogen as an emerging market, with offshore wind leader Ørsted last month trumpeting the first major project to exclusively target the transport sector in Denmark. The eye-catching Toyota Mirai helped fuel early hopes that hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles might vie with electric cars to take over from the internal combustion engine. But as the EV market has boomed, the prospect of hydrogen being a serious contender has faded from view, at least in the passenger vehicle segment.There are roughly 18,000 hydrogen fuel-cell cars in the world today and 31,000 forklifts, compared to more than 373,600 plug-in electrics up to December 2020.That said, pundits still expect hydrogen to play a role in decarbonizing some vehicle segments, with forklifts and heavy-duty trucks among the most likely to benefit.

  • Powersystems looks at the most ambitious shake-up in the bus sector in a generation. The 5-year new funding investment aims to deliver 4,000 new British-built electric/hydrogen buses to provide clean, quiet, zero-emission travel
  • The NHS outlined plans to trial hydrogen-powered ambulances in London later this year. The organisation is sourcing retrofitted hydrogen combustion technology from ULEMCo and pairing it with battery technology from Promech Technologies
  • Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) updated its business strategy to fully electrify Jaguar models by 2025, with another ambition to begin testing hydrogen fuel cell electric prototypes in the UK this year
  • Toyota, Daimler and BMW are leading a group of 13 companies across the world, investing $10 billion over the next decade in developing hydrogen technology and infrastructure. Government investment also has a role to play
  • Bath Area Trams Association (BATA) has announced that it is in detailed discussions with American transportation system manufacturer TIG/m and consultants TenBroeke Engineering for a wire-free hydrogen tram project
  • Powersystems reports on Hydrogen or electric vehicles? Why the answer is probably both – The distinct virtues of the two main emerging types of greener transport mean both are likely to flourish, depending on the requirements of different types of user
  • In Northern Ireland, the first three hydrogen fuel cell double decker busses entered service on Northern Ireland a further 142 buses to come.
  • In the North East – Teeside, which produces most of the UK’s current hydrogen, a hydrogen transport Centre of Excellence is being set up and funded by the government, with local leaders having even wider hydrogen economy aspirations
  • The Government has announced £30m of investment in EV and hydrogen technology to help launch studies into the creation of a UK lithium supply chain, improvements in battery safety and the re-use of car batteries. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) revealed the plans, which include a project to extract lithium from hard rock in Cornwall as well as studies into hydrogen storage and the development of solid-state batteries.
Leading sector for UK job creation

Green hydrogen has the potential to become a leading sector in the UK for job creation and exports.

The UK is currently a global leader in the manufacture and design of hydrogen electrolysis systems, with decades of expertise in hydrogen storage, transportation, and combustion technologies. These include the world’s first PEM electrolysis Gigafactory built by ITM Power, membrane free electrolysers developed by CPH2, and high resiliency electrolysers built for the UK & French nuclear fleets by TP Group.

Other emerging technologies Include Solid Oxide Electrolysers currently under development by CERES Power and HiiROC’s plasma process technology.

74,000 jobs could be created from a commitment to hydrogen by the government and supported by appropriate measures

Supporting these highly specialised businesses and other innovative technology companies require highly skilled workers creating thousands of well-paid manufacturing jobs across the UK will provide a competitive advantage towards an emerging global market demand.

Longer-term private sector vision

These new projects may seem small in comparison to the UK’s broader transport, industrial and heat sectors. But it is clear that there is strong private sector support for longer-term, overarching initiatives that deliver an ongoing transition beyond initial pilots.

  • The Green Hydrogen Catapult, for example, has convened seven big businesses under a shared mission to increase the world’s green hydrogen production fifty-fold by 2026 – in a move they claim will halve costs
  • Business members of the Catapult include Iberdrola, Ørsted, ACWA Power, CWP Renewables, Envision, Yara, and Snam
  • Away from the private sector, non-profit the Rocky Mountain Institute will provide support alongside the UN’s pre-COP26 ‘Race to Zero’

£320 billion could be generated by the Hydrogen industry for the UK economy

  • Similarly, trade bodies including WindEurope and SolarPowerEurope received backing from Bill-Gates-backed Breakthrough Energy last year to form the Renewable Hydrogen Coalition
  • And, while the Catapult is global and the Coalition covers all of Europe, the UK does play host to its own Hydrogen Taskforce, which includes the likes of Shell and BP

The Hydrogen Taskforce is a coalition of the hydrogen industry’s largest organisations that operate in and innovate across this sector. Its aim is to secure the role of hydrogen in the future energy mix.

The Hydrogen Taskforce is committed to working with Government to secure tangible support to aid the creation of infrastructure and delivery frameworks, helping the government to deliver on its promises to level up the regions and its Net Zero by 2050 commitments.

The Hydrogen Taskforce aims to enable the UK to become a world leader in the international application and service of hydrogen, to deliver excellence throughout the supply chain and create a globally attractive export.

All in all, it would seem that all of the ingredients are ready for the UK to begin dramatically decarbonising and scaling up its hydrogen sector. Over the coming weeks, all eyes will be on BEIS, pushing it to bring the Hydrogen Strategy to the table and understand the actions we now need to take as part of the Rollout plan for a UK hydrogen economy.


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