Scotland has the potential to become a major producer and exporter of clean hydrogen within the next decade, according to Scottish Enterprise.
On 9 August, it published Development of clean hydrogen production in Scotland, a report setting out how Scotland’s location, renewable energy potential, established oil and gas industry, geological features, technical expertise, existing infrastructure and 2045 net zero commitment all leave it very well placed to become a global leader in the emerging clean hydrogen market. Highlighting its potential, it cited estimates from the Scottish Hydrogen Assessment, which states Scotland could produce 126TWh of clean hydrogen a year by 2045 and export 94TWh to Europe.
Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Japan were all identified was potential export markets, having all developed national hydrogen strategies that reference an expectation that they will have to import clean hydrogen to meet future demand.
North West Europe has centres of industry, an extensive gas pipeline network and is committed to clean hydrogen which, once factoring in its proximity to Scotland, makes it a clear market opportunity to make the most of over the coming decade. Japan, meanwhile, is engaging with other countries to establish hydrogen procurement strategies and could see its industries consuming as much as 58mn tonnes of hydrogen a year by 2050.
However, Scotland will not be the only nation or region striving to establish itself as a clean hydrogen exporter, with Norway, Spain, Portugal, Australia, North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Chile and Canada all identified as competitors.
Developing clean hydrogen technologies and large-scale deployment will be “paramount” to the success of Scotland’s efforts to reach net zero by 2045. The report tipped both blue and green hydrogen to play an important role in the decarbonisation of the energy sector, with the future hydrogen economy having to transition quickly from grey to blue hydrogen, and through blue to green.
It found Scotland has multiple locations with the potential to develop large-scale blue or green hydrogen production facilities, located near heavy industrial locations and co-located with industrial hydrogen and oxygen off-takers, skilled workforce and local support. There is just one, however – the Acorn Hydrogen project – that currently has significant material plans in the public domain.
To build on its assessment, Scottish Enterprise went on to make a series of recommended next steps, including further study to determine the techno-economic feasibility of green hydrogen production from large scale renewable electricity; engaging with site owners and operators to determine site suitability, stakeholder appetite and any current plans for a hydrogen production development; and further study to determine the feasibility of developing a port or terminal to support hydrogen export through bulk cargo or vessel fuel.