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Hydrogen funding marks milestone for industrial decarbonisation

15/12/2023

The UK has always had the potential to become a world leader in green hydrogen production through the advantage offered by our abundance of renewable energy. This week that potential has moved a bit closer to reality with the announcement of the first wave of projects to receive government support for construction and operations.

Peter Jones and Claire Coutinho

The Department of Energy Security and Net Zero has looked to champion the creation of a competitive UK hydrogen sector and prioritised projects that will help abate energy intensive industries and heavy transport.  This focus on supporting the areas of the economy with existing demand to decarbonise and rapidly creating an active market for the green fuel is key if we’re to continue our efforts to reduce carbon emissions throughout industries and beyond the power sector.   

Fledgling technologies need a leg up and the first wave of hydrogen production plants will help encourage a broader market for investment.  This week’s announcement is another step in the right direction to build confidence in the strength of the opportunity.  But there is still a way to go to before the UK gets to the stage of green hydrogen production across the country. 

It’s still early days for the technology in the UK but this is a milestone in what is a burgeoning future industry that will further support the UK’s efforts to decarbonise. 

At ScottishPower we have been at the forefront of investigating the opportunity for green hydrogen in the UK and two of our projects were successful in this recent funding round. 

We are looking at the potential of producing up to four tonnes of green hydrogen a day at our Whitelee project.  Powered by the UK’s largest onshore windfarm, near Glasgow, and supported by one of the country’s largest battery storage facilities, the green fuel that could be produced at Whitelee would be able to supply a mixture of industrial and transport customers and help their decarbonisation efforts. 

At Cromarty, our project with Storegga, could help the Scotch whisky industry go green.  Based at our 15MW Beinn Tharsuinn windfarm in Caithness, the Cromarty plant could produce up to 6 tonnes of green hydrogen a day.

Peter Jones and Claire Coutinho

And we’ve got a project pipeline which could be included in future allocation rounds, including the 100MW Port of Felixstowe scheme, in partnership with Hutchison Ports, that would create a clean energy hub at one of the UK’s busiest ports.    

It’s important to say though that there is still much to be done to help create the market conditions in which green hydrogen can be successful.  The industry still needs to build the confidence in the market, ensure there are customers ready to kickstart their own decarbonisation journey and work through the challenge of permitting and construction too so we’re still some way off seeing the first industrial scale plants in production.       

The UK has staked its claim as the fastest economy to decarbonise to date through support, investment and creation of the right conditions for renewable energy industry decades ago.  If we want to keep progressing, we need to continue that effort in new technologies and the UK is well placed to be a leader in green hydrogen.  We’re delighted to be playing our part in that green hydrogen fuelled journey.

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