The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has published its annual progress report on the UK’s progress towards achieving Net Zero. The report considers progress across sectors, governmental departments and technologies whilst making recommendations on where efforts should be focused in ‘building back better’ from the pandemic.
The report, Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament, has made particular reference to the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS), but also hydrogen with consultation on mechanisms to support operational costs deemed as ‘urgently required’.
Industry, energy supply and shipping, which account for 36% of UK emissions, were specifically referenced as opportunity areas for hydrogen and CCS development. In its ‘Further Ambition’ scenario, the CCC projected that hydrogen production should be on the scale of the UK’s current gas-fired fleet with CCS a ‘necessity’, especially in order to facilitate the development of hydrogen where vast amounts of excess renewable electricity is unlikely to exist in the short-term.
The CCC highlighted the need for leadership in developing national strategies ahead of the COP-26 summit next year. It made reference to the National Infrastructure Strategy and Energy White Paper as important documents, which it said should focus on hydrogen and CCS development. It anticipates that trials should be rolled-out throughout the early 2020s, with feasibility of CCS and hydrogen demonstrated by the mid-2020s. Large-scale hydrogen production will be required at scale by the late 2020s with initial use in applications that will not require major infrastructure investment such as power generation, industry, depot-based transport and gas grid injection.
In respect of CCS, the CCC said the preferred funding model and mechanism for infrastructure should be determined by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) by the end of 2020 in order for industrial clusters utilising CCS to be operational by the mid-2020s. In addition to this, BEIS should work on creating support for hydrogen production business models that make use of CCS technology. BEIS was also called on to develop a ‘Net Zero Strategy’ to replace the Clean Growth Strategy (2017) based on changing targets and developments in areas such as offshore wind costs and hydrogen deployment potential. Decisions on the future of the gas grid and on the future balance between electrification and hydrogen for heating should also be made by the mid-2020s.
Specific recommendations were also made to the Department for Transport (DfT) to build on the Clean Maritime Plan to develop zero-carbon hydrogen supply chains for shipping as well as to make decisions on the role that hydrogen should play in road vehicles by the late-2020s. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) was recommended to assess the potential for hydrogen in its vehicles, ships and aircrafts.
Over-arching policy decisions that must be made in respect of hydrogen and CCS were deemed to be developing an ambitious support package for building the supply of and demand for hydrogen and setting out the preferred mechanism and awarding support for industrial CCS.
These recommendations are very welcome and must be implemented if a healthy hydrogen sector is to be developed in time to make a meaningful contribution to delivery of the Net Zero targets. The committee’s views on hydrogen seem to have firmed considerably since its last progress report a year ago.