The oil and gas incumbency’s preferred blue stain of up-and-coming hydrogen took a further hit to its credibility this morning, as its cleaner, greener alternative received a £3 billion investment.
Solar and wind developers RES and generator-retailer Octopus this morning announced a joint pledge to build unnumbered green hydrogen plants across Britain by 2030. Hydrogen’s green variant is electrolysed with carbon-absent electricity from methane-bereft water.
Pointedly repeating beleaguered energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s observation during the current gas crisis, the duo this morning stress their partnership will “deliver a home-grown, reliable and cost-competitive source of clean hydrogen … insulated from present and future gas price volatility.”
Octopus Renewables manages more than 300 solar, onshore wind and biomass projects valued at over £3.4 billion. In July the company joined the Octopus Energy Group, bringing the supply and the generation side of energy together under one roof.
RES is the world’s largest independent renewable energy company, with operations across Europe, Australia and the Americas. Over the last 40 years, RES claims to have delivered 22 GW of generation capacity across the globe. Yesterday it announced its sale to TagEnergy of a 50 MW battery at Roaring Hill in Fife.
Eduardo Medina replaces RES’ departing chief executive Ivor Catto later this month, as Catto steps down after five years that have seen a doubling of the group’s project pipeline.
Green electrons, from guys who know their onions
The aim of the partnership announced today, the companies clarify, is “to make the most of green electrons … generated in abundance on sunny and windy days, by storing them as green hydrogen, helping the UK become more energy independent”.
The duo will work with large industrial businesses who want to be leaders in decarbonisation. Their venture will support the government’s ambition for a green-led recovery, creating new high skilled jobs contributing to premier Johnson’s levelling-up agenda.
The UK government released its hydrogen strategy in August, calling for production and use of low-carbon hydrogen to be ramped up this decade so Britain can reach Net Zero by the government’s 2050 deadline.
The day before the strategy’s publication, Chris Jackson, head of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, resigned in disgust at the equal emphasis given by Johnson’s government to what Jackson, a key adviser, called Whitehall’s ‘expensive indulgence’ of hydrocarbon-derived blue hydrogen
Today Alex Brierley, Octopus Renewables’ co-head said: “Supply of green hydrogen will be critical to the success of many industries in meeting the UK’s net zero targets.
“With this partnership we are providing a solution for those businesses to help deliver on the government’s ambitions.
“We invite industrial businesses that are currently using hydrogen to contact us and benefit from the early mover advantage”.
Rachel Ruffle, RES’ EMEA CEO, said; “We know that renewable-based electrification using wind and solar is the fastest way to decarbonise.
“When coupled with the production of green hydrogen, it becomes the natural choice for industry and our hard-to-abate sectors. Our partnership will enable industrial users to make the switch to reliable and cost-effective green hydrogen.”
Octopus’ expansion since April has been frenetic. Developments prominent in a 2021 corporate narrative justifying the description ‘all killer, no filler’ have been the following:
- launching Octopus Hydrogen to exploit flex trading via its Kraken platform
- merging its generation and retail arms
- welcoming Al Gore’s investment fund into 13% ownership
- part-electrifying its UK service fleet
- supplying green H2 to carbon-free Cotswolds plane maker ZeroAvia
- buying a Spanish start-up
- absorbing 580,00 customers of failed retailer Avro
- buying into UK biomass, and
- dipping into reservoir power.