The Scottish government has mapped out the “strong, strategic approach” it plans to take as it looks to develop a hydrogen economy in Scotland.
On 10 November, it published its draft Hydrogen Action Plan, outlining the actions it will take over the next five years to drive Scotland’s hydrogen production capability to meet an ambition of 5GW of renewable and low carbon hydrogen by 2030, meeting 15% of its total energy demand, before rising to 25GW by 2045. It also aims to address barriers to uptake, encourage demand, develop supply chain capability, export potential and support the growth of Regional Hydrogen Energy Hubs, all while ensuring a just transition to net zero.
It set out how achieving deep decarbonisation of industrial energy and heat demand will call for large volumes of renewable and low carbon hydrogen, acting as a “compelling solution” for sectors where electrification proves challenging. The action plan therefore strives to ensure the deployment of these technologies can enable decarbonisation at pace and cannot be used to justify unsustainable levels of fossil fuel extraction.
Underpinning the plan is more than £100mn in funding, focused on supporting regional renewable hydrogen production hubs and renewable hydrogen projects.
A call for proposals for renewable hydrogen projects and infrastructure is to be launched in Q2 2022, while a £10mn Hydrogen Innovation Fund will debut next year, aiming to drive technological progress and advance innovations and cost reductions. It will also look to ensure the regulatory, planning and consenting framework for renewable energy and hydrogen developments support the scale-up of production at pace.
To establish a domestic market, it is planning to back the development of Regional Hydrogen Hubs, where production is paired with multiple end-use applications, helping to stimulate demand. This includes the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub, which will be given £15mn in support, whereas no support will be given to new unabated hydrogen production.
Elsewhere, it will work with electricity and gas network operators to realise the system benefits that hydrogen provides, as well as exploring the use of hydrogen as an energy storage and balancing asset to the national electricity and gas grids, including repurposing existing national grid pipelines for hydrogen use, transportation and storage.
Efforts to enable the growth and transition of Scotland’s supply chain and workforce will include the development of a Hydrogen Economy Cluster and funding of a Hydrogen Business Development Service. The cluster will strive to raise awareness of opportunities in the hydrogen economy, with the business development service – delivered through the Energy Technology Partnership – set to accelerate knowledge exchange between academia and enterprises to stimulate innovation in the sector.
Other areas of interest include establishing international partnerships and markets, with the Scottish government to work with industry to develop a Hydrogen Export Plan, and strengthening research and innovation, which will see a Scottish Hydrogen Innovation Network established to provide support to the hydrogen research and innovation ecosystem in Scotland. A consultation on the draft plan is now set to run until 19 January 2022.