UK Hydrogen Strategy Published

Written on the 18th August, 2021

At long last, the UK Government has published its Hydrogen Strategy and it can be found on the UK Government website at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1011283/UK-HydrogenStrategy_web.pdf    If you don’t want to wade through a 120 page document, a Press Release can also be found at UK government launches plan for a world-leading hydrogen economy – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)   It is interesting to note that the Strategy is published during a holiday period with the Afghan crisis taking up most of the news headlines,  In many respects,  it covers the same ground as other national hydrogen strategies in the North Sea Region, looking at the case for hydrogen, scaling up production and use, realising the economic benefits and international collaboration.   The areas that could benefit from hydrogen applications are similar to other strategies with sections on heavy industry, public transport, trains, heavy duty transport, heating in buildings and hydrogen in the gas network, shipping and aviation etc.

However, there is one major difference when compared to the Dutch, German and EU strategies.   The UK Strategy concentrates on “low carbon hydrogen” so much so that a Sky News presenter described the Strategy as the UK’s “strategy to produce hydrogen from natural gas.”  The Strategy does not define low carbon hydrogen but does state that it is made steam methane reformation which it admits is a “carbon intensive process”  which can be made low carbon by Carbon Capture and Storage (CCUS.)  The Strategy wants the UK to be a World Leader in low carbon hydrogen production.

The Strategy sets a target of 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030 which will include the decarbonisation of existing UK hydrogen supply: This will be “decarbonised through CCUS and/or supplemented by electrolytic hydrogen injection.”  However, the Press Release does talk of a “twin-track approach promoting blue and green hydrogen.  The approach seems at odds with the EU Hydrogen Strategy and the German national strategy which sees  low carbon hydrogen as a transition to zero carbon green hydrogen.  In fact, it was this debate that led to the delay in the publication of the German Strategy.   The Dutch Strategy has a section entitled “The systemic role of hydrogen in a zero carbon energy supply.”

From the Strategy, it is difficult to work out how much Government funding will be available.  The Press Release mentions a £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund and £105 million provided to support polluting industries to significantly slash their emissions.   The amount allocated to the Strategy seems to be one of the reasons for the delay in the publication of the Strategy.    Around £500 million was allocated to hydrogen in the Ten Point Plan announced by the Prime Minister last year with an additional £200 million allocated to two CCUS projects.  However, Government expenditure is likely to be way short of the €9 billion that the German Government has committed to fund its Strategy.

 

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