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How the UK plans to lead the world in hydrogen power

Professional Engineering

The UK’s Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has outlined the government’s plan to create thousands of jobs, and billions of pounds of investment by focusing on hydrogen.

The country’s first ever Hydrogen Strategy describes the measures that will be introduced to enable the UK to reach its goal of 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen capacity by 2030.

The government estimates this could create 9000 jobs and be worth £900m by 2030, rising to 100,000 jobs and £13bn by 2050. Hydrogen could play an important role in decarbonising industries like chemicals, power and heavy transport. Government analysis suggests that 20 to 35% of the UK’s energy consumption could be hydrogen-based by 2050. 

“Today marks the start of the UK’s hydrogen revolution,” said Kwarteng. “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.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Energy & Climate Change Minister, said the hydrogen strategy sends a strong global signal and “could deliver hundreds of thousands of high-quality green jobs, help 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 its previous successful interventions in offshore wind, where the UK is a world leader thanks to government action and strong private-sector backing. It used the Contracts for Difference scheme which incentivises investment in renewables by shielding developers from volatile wholesale prices, and protecting consumers from increased cost when electricity prices are high. 

The government has today launched a public consultation on a preferred hydrogen business model built on a similar premise. It’s also consulting on the design of the £240m Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, along with a host of other measures, including industry collaboration.

“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,” said Dr Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power. “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.”

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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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