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Government urged to speed up green hydrogen deployment

Professional Engineering

'The UK has the potential to become a global leader in green hydrogen' (Credit: Shutterstock)
'The UK has the potential to become a global leader in green hydrogen' (Credit: Shutterstock)

A renewable energy organisation has urged the government to work closely with the UK’s “world class green hydrogen industry” to speed up deployment of major new projects.

Government policies could kickstart a “major new green energy industry”, according to a report published today (3 May) by trade organisation RenewableUK.

The document, Surveying the UK’s Green Hydrogen Supply Chain Capability, warns that the UK stands at a “critical juncture”, with other countries taking steps to move ahead in the global race to create thousands of jobs and attract billions in private investment in the decades ahead. 

Green hydrogen is made using zero-carbon power in electrolysers that split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The UK is home to world renowned electrolyser companies like ITM Power and Ceres, whose cutting edge technology has been licensed worldwide, RenewableUK said.

The country’s pipeline of electrolyser projects stands at 1.5GW, with a significant amount of new capacity expected to enter the pipeline soon, although only 4MW are fully operational. The government has set a target of 10GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, at least half of which will be green hydrogen. 

To reach this target, the report recommends building multiple large projects as soon as possible, to demonstrate there is a viable market for investors and suppliers. Government support schemes, such as the Hydrogen Business Model and the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, could play key roles in this and so should be sped up, the report says.

“If the UK does not step up, it risks being left behind due to ambitious tax incentives and subsidies offered abroad, such as the United States Inflation Reduction Act, which may attract investment and prospective suppliers away from this country,” a RenewableUK announcement said.

“The report recommends that ministers should consider consulting with the industry and setting up a joint working group to establish how tax incentives and other financial institutions, such as the UK Infrastructure Bank, could be used to make the UK a more competitive market for investment in the green hydrogen supply chain.”

The report also recommends the creation of a new government-industry taskforce, to establish a ‘roadmap’ setting out how the UK can reach at least 5GW of green hydrogen by 2030. New pipelines will be needed to carry green hydrogen, both locally and to markets in Europe, as well as underground storage in disused gas fields.

Most green hydrogen will be produced using electricity generated by offshore wind, the announcement added, so a detailed study of how those technologies can operate alongside each other could help create more flexibility in the electricity system and strengthen Britain’s energy security.  

“The UK has the potential to become a global leader in green hydrogen,” said RenewableUK senior policy analyst Laurie Heyworth.

“We’re at a pivotal moment at which we can take decisive strategic action, enabling us to seize the opportunity to deliver growth and jobs by developing robust local supply chains in the burgeoning green hydrogen industry, creating opportunities to export our technology worldwide.

“But the development of green hydrogen has been hampered by a lack of clear policy direction and investment in comparison to blue hydrogen made from fossil fuels. Delays in bringing in vital financial support mechanisms have slowed down our ability to build projects on a scale big enough to act as proof points for investors and suppliers to enable us to grow our domestic supply chain.

“This report sets out how these issues can be addressed, with industry and government working together to maximise the economic and environmental benefits which this innovative technology offers.”

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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