Green hydrogen created from carbon-free power including wind will be key to decarbonising the economy by 2050, according to lobby group Renewable UK.
The group is calling for annual capacity auctions to spur more wind investment.
Lots more wind capacity will be needed if hydrogen is to be produced in the required quantities via electrolysis, 120GW, according to Renewable UK’s Vision of the Transition document.
But it suggests green hydrogen will become cost-competitive earlier in this country than elsewhere, if build out of renewables capacity and falling cost curves continue their trajectories.
The report suggests green hydrogen can be used in converted gas-fired power stations as well in industrial and domestic boilers. Replacing carbon-based methane in heavy manufacturing is increasingly possible, the document argues, as one steel maker recently proved.
Meanwhile, trucks and ships can run on hydrogen-powered fuel cells, as UK manufacturer Arrival is planning.
Green hydrogen is winning serious backing from investors and government. In Sheffield later this year, ITM Power will open what it claims to be the world’s biggest electrolyser plant.
Other forms of hydrogen are also gaining traction. In March the government launched its Hydrogen Taskforce, with energy heavyweights Shell and BOC as members.
Several of Renewable UK’s member companies are also backing hydrogen, which would require them to both build more turbines, and create a new market for their power.
Ørsted has established a dedicated hydrogen business unit. Vattenfall also aims to operate across the hydrogen supply chain using its wind resource to power production.
Currently, the vast majority of the world’s hydrogen is produced via steam methane reforming, using gas, or gasification using coal. It is carbon intensive and requires carbon capture and storage to work in order to be considered a method of decarbonisation.
Around 0.4 per cent of global hydrogen production is via electrolysis, according to the International Energy Agency, with a fraction of that powered by renewables.