A Scottish government report has reinforced the opportunities for hydrogen to contribute to Scotland’s economic growth and post-Covid recovery.
On 27 October, the Scottish government published Scotland’s Inward Investment Plan: Shaping Scotland’s Economy, setting out its ambition to create tens of thousands of jobs and spread the benefits of inward investment more evenly across Scotland. It identified nine key opportunity areas where Scotland’s strengths can match global investment flows, including both the energy transition and decarbonisation of transport.
With Scotland’s electricity system now largely decarbonised – more than 90% of its electricity was generated from renewables in 2019 – its ambition of reaching net zero by 2045 will drive it to continue developing existing strengths in renewable energy in areas such as fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind, as well as emerging areas including local energy systems, tidal, wave, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
On hydrogen specifically, the report set out how North East Scotland has an emerging “Hydrogen Coast”, running from Orkney to Aberdeen and to Fife, with a number of both new and existing projects. It outlined world-leading hydrogen demonstration projects, such as BIG-HIT in Orkney, testing the integration of renewable energy to create hydrogen for power, heating and transport.
Elsewhere, funding from the Scottish Government Energy Transition Fund has seen plans commence for the development of a Hydrogen Hub in Aberdeen that would present the opportunity to attract international investors to develop solutions to use green hydrogen in the transport sector. Hydrogen inward investment priorities will also include attracting electrolyser manufacturers to Scotland.
When it comes to CCS, Scotland’s competitive advantage is based on the built and natural assets of the North Sea oil and gas industry as well as the offshore engineering skills and experiences of that workforce. It highlighted the St Fergus gas terminal in North East Scotland, which is being developed as a major site for both hydrogen production and CCS.
Another area of opportunity where hydrogen can play a role is in the decarbonisation of transport. Key manufacturing companies make buses, refuse vehicles, earth moving vehicles, emergency vehicles and marine vessels, with the report stating Scotland is at the forefront of demonstration and deployment of electric and other low carbon powertrains for many of these vehicles and the infrastructure to support them. The Scottish government plans to build capacity in these areas while, in addition to the production of vehicles, it highlighted how it has already established the UK’s most comprehensive electric vehicle charging network and is developing hydrogen refuelling capacity.
It detailed the range of ambitious, innovative, low carbon transport projects across Scotland, such as the deployment of Europe’s largest hydrogen bus fleet in Aberdeen, the BIG HIT and Surf ’n’ Turf projects in the Orkneys which are creating integrated approaches to hydrogen in transport and heat networks, and the deployment of the world’s first hydrogen dual-fuel refuse collection vehicles in Fife.