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The UK’s Hydrogen Economy – Industry Reactions

The UK’s Hydrogen Economy – Industry Reactions
19 August 2021
 

The UK’s first-ever hydrogen strategy launched this week, defining the energy source as critical in the country’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

The hydrogen strategy is one of a series of strategies the UK government is publishing ahead of the UN Climate Summit COP26, taking place in Glasgow this November.

In the UK, a low-carbon hydrogen economy could deliver emissions savings equivalent to the carbon captured by 700 million trees by 2032, and is a key pillar of capitalising on cleaner energy sources as the UK moves away from fossil fuels.

Hydrogen could also play a significant role in heating people’s homes and businesses, helping to slash carbon emissions from the UK’s heating system.

 

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Hydrogen Success Stories

 

Across the UK, innovative projects involving hydrogen are already taking place:

 

  • In Scotland, the Acorn Hydrogen project located in St Fergus, Aberdeenshire, is taking advantage of existing oil and gas infrastructure to reform North Sea natural gas into low carbon hydrogen with the emissions created from generating the hydrogen, safely removed and stored through carbon capture, usage and storage. 
  • In Northern Ireland, Wrightbus in Belfast has invested heavily into developing hydrogen fuel cell buses
  • In Port Talbot, a project by Hanson Cement is demonstrating how hydrogen from renewable energy can help decarbonise cement manufacturing.
  • Unilever and Progressive Energy are running a trial to switch an onsite natural gas-fired boiler to hydrogen. The boiler, located at Unilever’s Port Sunlight facility on the Wirral, raises steam used for the manufacture of home and personal care products.

 

Export For UK

 

Clare Jackson, Head of Innovation and Low Carbon at Germserv, agreed that supporting hydrogen will help deliver a green recovery and that it has the potential to be a world-leading export for the UK:

“The Hydrogen Strategy published today fires the starting gun on the scaling of hydrogen solutions in the UK. This is great news for the industry, but it is just the first step in a very long journey to establishing hydrogen as a key part of our future energy systems and enable the UK to cost-effectively deliver net-zero”.

 

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Picture: a photograph of Clare Jackson

 

“Property designers, owners, occupiers and policy decision-makers must now determine the best way to improve building energy performance, from insulation and double glazing to heating, cooling, lighting and hot water alternatives.”

–Steve McGregor

Group MD, DMA Group

 

The Opportunity to Upskill

 

A booming, UK-wide hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million and create over 9,000 high-quality jobs by 2030, potentially rising to 100,000 jobs and worth up to £13 billion by 2050. By 2030, hydrogen could play an important role in decarbonising polluting, energy-intensive industries like chemicals, oil refineries, power and heavy transport like shipping, HGV lorries and trains, by helping these sectors move away from fossil fuels. 

Jeff House, Head of External Affairs at Baxi Heating, said that the shift will drive upskilling opportunities: 

“Technology, energy efficiency and business models are all bit parts in the wider picture. Skilled installers and contractors will be utterly essential to success, so we are glad to see the announcement of a hydrogen sector development action plan in early 2022 setting out how the government will support companies to secure supply chain opportunities, skills and jobs in hydrogen.”

 

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Commercial Real Estate Sector Must Drive Strategy Forward

 

Steve McGregor, Group MD of DMA Group, spoke about the role of commercial property owners in driving the hydrogen strategy forward:

“Property designers, owners, occupiers and policy decision-makers must now determine the best way to improve building energy performance, from insulation and double glazing to heating, cooling, lighting and hot water alternatives.”

"We should be proud that Britain was home to the first industrial revolution and is now paving the way for a next, green industrial revolution. We can’t underestimate the scale and breadth of the commitment to establish the UK as a global leader in carbon capture technology. It will protect tens of thousands of jobs whilst creating thousands of others. Collectively we must move towards renewable energy, waste less and reduce our demand."

 

100% Hydrogen Economy

 

Mike Foster, CEO of the Energy and Utilities Alliance predicts an eventual switch to a 100 per cent hydrogen economy in the future:

"The UK’s Hydrogen Strategy represents a huge step in the right direction for the introduction of the technology, something the heating industry is rallying behind in the decarbonisation process. The government’s commitment to hydrogen is a promising step, which will help to create thousands of jobs and decarbonise homes for millions of consumers with minimal disruption.

 

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Picture: a photograph of Mike Foster

 

“We are enthused to see the government also recognise the role a hydrogen blend into the grid will play in reducing carbon emissions without homeowners needing to change appliances or boilers. It is of great importance that the transition to hydrogen does not cause disruption or large costs to consumers. The blend is a way to significantly reduce emissions with no change, which will, in turn, leave time for the groundwork to be laid for a seamless switch to 100 per cent hydrogen later on."

Picture: a photograph of a hydrogen power project

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 19 August 2021

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