Lack of Hydrogen strategy holding back net-zero Britain

Philip Dunne MP, Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee

In a letter to Business Secretary Alok Sharma, Philip Dunne MP, Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has stated that the lack of clear vision from Government risks scuppering progress for hydrogen to play a key role in developing the UK’s low carbon energy mix.

It states that through evidence sessions heard by the EAC, it is clear that the UK has the expertise and the technology capabilities to scale up low-carbon hydrogen, but it lags behind other nations such as Australia, Japan and Canada which all have ambitious hydrogen strategies, as well as the recently launched EU initiative.

Furthermore, it says that a Hydrogen Strategy could play a key role in supporting cost-effective decarbonisation of transport sectors such as aviation and shipping. A clear vision could lead to hydrogen clusters forming around the country, supporting jobs and local economies, while supporting heavy industrial processes such as chemicals and steel in a transition to hydrogen. This decarbonisation could be accomplished by mixing hydrogen with natural gas or developing power plants to run on 100% hydrogen.

At present 95% of global hydrogen is derived from fossil fuel feedstocks, so more must be done to champion carbon capture and storage (CCS) to ensure hydrogen fully contributes to a low-carbon future. The UK has the potential with its world-leading offshore wind sector to champion green hydrogen, but there is also significant potential to decarbonise blue hydrogen created using fossil fuels.

Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said, “The UK’s strengths in innovation, technology and skills can be utilised to champion hydrogen as a major player in our energy mix – but the Government must pave the way.

“The Committee heard time and again during evidence that the UK’s lack of a Hydrogen Strategy by Government is holding back efforts to make scaling up hydrogen production a reality. The upcoming National Infrastructure Strategy due in the Autumn could be an excellent opportunity for the Government to bring forward a Hydrogen Strategy to underpin its commitment to a Net Zero Britain.”


  1. How about lack of money due to coronavirus spending, send the virus the bill its trying to take over the world or only wash up every 3 days. Baby it’s hot outside, we have sun and wind power. The cost of energy is holding everybody back.

  2. I would have thought not wasting time on hydrogen would be a good strategy! If electricity is cheap enough to use/waste making H2 at a consumer cost of 3p/kWh or £1/kg (the same cost as a kWh of gas) then we can heat our houses with the electricity and cut out energy-inefficient H2 middle man. The last H2FC car I looked at was more carbon intensive than a diesel car if the hydrogen was made from the UK grid and cost twice as much for the fuel. The battery electric car charged from the same grid had emissions one third those of the diesel and cost one third the price for fuel. Clearly the petrochemical lobby who like a fuel we all have to buy and can’t make ourselves on our roof have got to Dunne.

    • The cost of hydrogen v electricity depends largely on fuel tax. As we move towards zero carbon emissions by 2050, the advantages of cheap fossil fuels will disappear as taxes are raised. Major oil producers such as Saudi Arabia are starting to build huge solar capture farms to produce hydrogen to export to the West (see Germany is presently making 5 of their north sea ports ready to receive hydrogen and the Japanese are already importing liquid hydrogen from Australia. I agree that heating houses with hydrogen is not the best option but maybe a necessary stepping stone to 2050 to convert buildings to electric heating, which is likely to be mainly with heat pumps. Here in the UK we have to convert all our electricity generation to zero carbon, partly by a massive increase in renewable energy but also by retrofitting our gas fired power stations with small modular nuclear reactors that can be mass produced in factories and taken to site by HGVs. We may also import some hydrogen instead of oil!

  3. The EAC is spot-on in highlighting the need for a greater focus on hydrogen (H2) to support the move towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050, however most of the UK’s production of H2 is made by the steam reforming of methane (CH4), a fossil fuel, that releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air, so it is called blue hydrogen. There are plans to capture the CO2 and store it in deep geological formations, but as the capture is only up to 95% efficient it must be seen as a stepping stone on the way to 2050. Steam reforming of (CH4) could be replaced by simply splitting off the carbon as graphite from the two H2 molecules in the Hazer process. Most green hydrogen will probably have to be produced by electrolysis of water using power from zero carbon sources such as renewables and nuclear, however in 2018, the latest data from BEIS, renewables and nuclear only supplied 162 TWh or 7.3% of zero carbon electricity, out of the UK’s total energy demand of 2,226 TWh; there’s a long way to go to bridge that massive gap to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We need a total UK plan.


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