The government has unveiled ambitions for up to 10GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 as part of its plan for energy independence.
On 7 April, it published its Energy Security Strategy, targeting a “major acceleration” in homegrown power to boost long-term energy independence, security and prosperity in light of rising global energy prices, driven by surging demand after the easing of pandemic restrictions and further exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent fallout. According to the government, its plan could see 95% of Britain’s electricity be low carbon by 2030 and support 40,000 more jobs in clean industries.
To do this, it is proposing 24GW of nuclear power by 2050, representing 25% of projected electricity demand, as well as 50GW of offshore wind by 2030, with 5GW from floating offshore wind, along with planning reforms to cut approval times from four years to one year as part of measures to streamline the overall process of getting new offshore wind online. It also is planning a new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas projects in the autumn, along with a new taskforce to provide bespoke support to these developments; to consult on developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities who want to host onshore wind; and to grow the UK’s solar capacity (14GW) five times by 2035.
As for hydrogen, the goal is to double ambition for low carbon hydrogen production capacity to 10GW by 2030, with at least half coming from electrolytic hydrogen. Investment in the North Sea, renewables and nuclear through the strategy mean the UK will be well-placed to exploit all forms of low carbon hydrogen production, with the government earmarking green hydrogen in particular as especially viable for flexibility and as a storage solution. Excess renewable electricity used to produce it could be stored over time and then used to power the grid, as and when it is needed.
It will aim to run annual allocation rounds for electrolytic hydrogen, before then moving to price competitive allocation by 2025, as soon as legislation and market conditions allow, ensuring that up to 1GW of electrolytic hydrogen is either in construction or operational by 2025. It will also design new business models for hydrogen transport and storage infrastructure by 2025, something that will be essential in growing the hydrogen economy, and look to level the playing field by setting up a hydrogen certification scheme in 2025. This will demonstrate high-grade British hydrogen for export, while ensuring that any imported hydrogen meets the same high standards that UK companies expect.