Scaling up hydrogen solutions in the UK could unlock £18bn for the economy by 2035, while also creating 75,000 jobs, according to the Hydrogen Taskforce.
On 12 August, it published an Economic Impact Assessment (EIA), setting out the “great potential” hydrogen has to play an important role in both the UK’s green recovery and its drive towards net zero by 2050. It forecast that around 11.3TWh of hydrogen would be required to support end-use sectors, including heat, transport, power and industry by 2035 annually, with jobs supported in production, transmission, distribution and storage infrastructure, as well as across different end uses.
The UK was found to be well placed to take a global leadership position when it comes to hydrogen production and meet substantial demand both at home and across Europe. The report assumed that by 2035, it will have a 20% green and 80% blue hydrogen mix. It estimated around 28,200 jobs would be unlocked in hydrogen production, including 11,239 in electrolyser manufacturing, with the majority concentrated in the north-west and north-east – areas that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis.
Elsewhere, by 2035, the report projected £5.3bn in GVA could be created in the storage, distribution and transmission of hydrogen across the UK, with 15,437 total jobs created.
Hydrogen will also play a key part in decarbonising sectors such as transport, heat, power and industry. The report outlined that by 2035 annually, 1.5TWh will support transport, 4.7TWh will support both residential and commercial heat, 4.8TWh will support industry, while 0.3TWh will support power generation. This would create 31,171 jobs in total, across end-use sectors such as vehicles, boilers and industrial equipment.
For transport, it noted that while other global economies have outpaced the UK when it comes to development of battery electric vehicles, it has the chance to take a leadership role when it comes to hydrogen mobility solutions. Hydrogen also stands ready to play a key role in decarbonising heat, highlighted as arguably being the biggest challenge facing the UK and its pursuit of net zero by 2050. The report assured the UK’s supply chain is well positioned to deliver hydrogen heating, with gas boiler manufacturing centres easily able to transition to hydrogen boilers and the existing installer networks having the necessary expertise and experience to install and service hydrogen boilers with the minimum amount of additional training.
Finally, on industry, the report stressed that for the UK to reach net zero, industrial processes must be decarbonised. The alternative is many operations and jobs are lost in the UK. With many of these jobs concentrated in areas hit hardest by COVID-19, the development and scaling of hydrogen solutions for industrial decarbonisation was cited as “essential” to protecting jobs as well as creating new ones.