Due to its various applications, hydrogen is “critical” to the UK reaching its 2050 net zero target, the Hydrogen Taskforce has told government.
In evidence submitted to the BEIS Committee’s inquiry into post-pandemic economic growth, it highlighted how other nations are already prioritising hydrogen in their recovery plans. Germany, it noted, has committed €9bn for green hydrogen projects to deliver 5GW by 2030 and a further 5GW by 2040. While the UK does have world class advantages in hydrogen production, distribution and application, the taskforce warned it is at serious risk of being left behind without similar ambition and investment.
The government’s recovery package should reflect the need to achieve deep decarbonisation and support wider objectives, including achieving net zero and levelling up the economy. It called for sectors and technologies that have the potential to grow rapidly in future to be prioritised. This includes hydrogen, which already has a strong pipeline of projects that could deliver many high skilled jobs in the short-term and has substantial potential for growth domestically and internationally. The taskforce noted the Hydrogen Council’s estimate that hydrogen markets could be worth as much as $2.5tn by 2050.
With the right policies and financial structure sin place, the taskforce said that the hydrogen sector will be “well-placed” to play a key role in the UK’s economic recovery, making a series of policy recommendations for government.
Central to these recommendations was a call for the development of a UK hydrogen strategy, which would give industry confidence of both the scale of the government’s ambition and the areas that it considers to be of the highest priority. It noted the industry is ready to invest in large-scale hydrogen production, storage and distribution projects to decarbonise critical areas of the UK energy system with government support.
The taskforce also drew on its own recently published economic impact assessment, which had set out how the hydrogen value chain can unlock £18bn in economic growth and support 75,000 jobs by 2035 – the majority (80%) in upstream and downstream sectors. It called on government to commit £1bn of capex funding over the next spending review period to hydrogen production, storage and distribution projects; to develop a financial support scheme for the production of hydrogen in blending, industry, power and transport; to amend the Gas Safety Management Regulations to enable hydrogen blending and take the next steps towards 100% hydrogen-ready boilers by 2025; and commit to the support of 100 hydrogen refuelling stations by 2025, supporting the rollout of hydrogen transport.