The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has called for the upcoming Scottish government hydrogen action plan to set a clear statement of ambition on hydrogen as a zero carbon heat solution, giving industry and investors the confidence to drive ahead with projects.
On 26 April, the ENA published a manifesto ahead of the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election on 6 May, outlining the networks’ priorities for supporting the new government in addressing the climate challenge. This includes making Scotland an international centre for green gas, with the hydrogen action plan a key element of this. This should incorporate detailed plans for hydrogen production, reflecting Holyrood’s 5GW target for 2030. The networks will also look for support for key hydrogen R&D projects, such as future phases of H100 Fife and Aberdeen Vision, among others.
For Scotland’s hydrogen industry to get off to a quick start, it further suggested introducing sectoral targets. This would drive the take-up of hydrogen in parts of the economy that are hard to decarbonise, while hydrogen can also offer a transition for skilled workers currently focused on fossil-based industries into a growing green sector.
Other priorities for the networks include aligning the RIIO framework with Scotland’s energy plans, refining the planning system to support the infrastructure of the future and driving the nationwide roll-out of electric vehicle infrastructure. Ensuring Scottish homes are heated efficiently and without carbon was also cited as key, with the ENA noting the Scottish government’s recently published Heat in Buildings Strategy set a target for 1mn homes heated by gas to be converted to low or zero carbon heating by 2030 as part of efforts to meet an interim 75% emissions reduction target set in law, which has cross-party support.
While electric heat pumps have been put forward as the main way of achieving this, supported by heat networks, the ENA called for greening the gas network to be considered as a viable alternative where heat pumps are not the most appropriate solution. This optionality over technologies available is not only critical to meeting net zero, but also engaging customers and ensuring they are brought along on the net zero journey. With this in mind, it called for the Heat in Buildings Strategy to reflect a hydrogen-heated homes target for 2030 as a key part of 2030 heat targets and equivalent numbers of homes on biomethane or blended hydrogen towards the 2030 heat target.