If the UK is going to hit its 10GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030 target it’s time to stop splitting hairs and start splitting molecules to kickstart the hydrogen economy.
There’s been plenty of hype around hydrogen for some time now with debate on the merits and challenges of hydrogen, whether it should be green, blue or grey or hedging bets with a “twin-track” approach – not to mention whether it can be blended into the gas network for domestic heat.
But we’re coming to a crux point where we need to turn talk into reality and get serious on the runners and riders in the race.
Leading think tank IPPR’s Hydrogen Powerhouse Report this week outlined how the technology can help decarbonise the industrial belt across northern England, supporting swathes of energy intensive industries to reduce emissions and make a big contribution to net zero.
We agree with its recommendations that the Government should prioritise development of green hydrogen and create the conditions to ramp up our renewable capacity to produce it at scale. The focus should be wholeheartedly on the hard to decarbonise sectors like heavy industry and transport.
It’s time to put to bed the nonsensical claims of using hydrogen for domestic heating. It’s an unnecessary distraction and an example of where Government and industry needs to concentrate on the job at hand.
Green hydrogen has great potential to decarbonise energy intensive activities which electrification cannot reach. Creating large hydrogen hubs, located next to traditionally carbon intensive demand from industry and transport is the right solution to decarbonise these hard-to-reach sectors and also, importantly, keep the cost down.
If we’re to get on track with the 10 GW target outlined by UK Government we need policy decisions, based on what the evidence is telling us, and what industry experience is showing us. We need concrete decisions on how we will bring the cost down and where it will be used, situated, and stored. And quickly.
The recent funding announcements from DESNZ were a step in the right direction. I was delighted ScottishPower secured a green hydrogen hat trick with two of our green hydrogen projects, Cromarty and Whitelee shortlisted for support.
Our Cromarty Green Hydrogen plant will be based at our 29MW Beinn Tharsuinn windfarm, with the facility producing green hydrogen, powered by 100% renewable electricity from on-site wind generation and solar PV imported from the grid.
The project, in partnership with Storegga, will have the capacity to produce around 12 tonnes of green hydrogen per day, which will be used to decarbonise heavy industry and transport, including the region’s famous whisky distilleries. This is exactly the type of approach the UK should be focusing on.
Our Whitelee 10MW project will be capable of up to four tonnes of hydrogen per day. It will be powered by a mix of technologies at one of Europe’s largest onshore wind farms which also includes a new solar farm and battery energy storage alongside the existing windfarm.
The hydrogen will be used for zero-carbon fuel for heavy transport and high temperature industrial processes, helping to decarbonise local transport and improve air quality for communities across Glasgow and wider region.
Finally, our 100MW Port of Felixstowe project, in partnership with Hutchison Ports, moved a step closer by securing nearly £2m in government funding for a feasibility study for a green hydrogen production plant at the port. The project aims to create a clean fuels hub that could help decarbonise heavy industry and heavy transport in the region.
This is brilliant progress, highly encouraging as developers and we want to see more of it.
The opportunity for hydrogen is huge – not only for net zero, but for developing a solid, robust market and supply chain, creating thousands of jobs for now and into the future.
It’s time we move away from the talk and spring into action to make the hydrogen economy a reality.