Policymakers’ lack of joined-up thinking on hydrogen as a low carbon industrial saviour risks the UK losing out to economies better managed to embrace it, says a clean energy trade body.

The UK has world-class participants in the emerging energy source, says a new study from  RenewableUK, but is in danger of losing out to competitor incentives such as EU plans and President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act .

Billions of new investment capital and thousands of British jobs in the breakthrough sector are at risk, policy analyst Laurie Heyworth concludes, unless government offers more generous tax breaks, and funding streams such as the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund & the Hydrogen Business Model are sped up.

The group’s report “Surveying the UK’s Green Hydrogen Supply Chain Capability” warns that the UK stands at a critical juncture, with other countries taking steps to overtake the nation.

The government published its Hydrogen Strategy in 2021, setting a target of 10GW of low carbon hydrogen by 2030, at least half of which will be green hydrogen.

British innovations in low-carbon hydrogen centre on new electrolyser technologies. World-class firms like ITM Power and Ceres have seen their products licenced worldwide, the report notes.

Although only 4 MW of electrolysers are currently fully operational, the UK’s pipeline stands already at 1.5GW, and is set for rapid expansion.

Johnson Matthey director Jane Toogood champions the clean gas in Whitehall.  Her first report in March urged ministers to look beyond current pilots, calling for better co-ordination of planning polices and new duties on grid operators for high-volume distribution.

RenewablesUK goes further.   It calls for a new government-industry taskforce to set out in detail 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. The UK must take swift action to invest in this infrastructure ahead of time.

Most green hydrogen will be produced using electricity generated by offshore wind.  A detailed study of how wind can interact with hydrogen producers can led to more flexibility in UKelectricity supply, strengthening energy security.

“The UK has the potential to become a global leader in green hydrogen”, Heyworth writes

“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 industry, and creating export opportunities”.

“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.

“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”.

Read the report here.


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