The UK has the opportunity to become a “genuine world leader” in the development, deployment and build-out of hydrogen infrastructure across the value chain in light of its 10GW target set for 2030, according to the government.
In late July, it published a hydrogen sector development action plan, outlining the actions that government, industry and others will be taking forward to realise the economic benefits of hydrogen for the UK and achieve the 10GW ambition. It highlighted how the 10GW ambition could mobilise over £9bn in private investment in production alone, supporting more than 12,000 jobs by 2030 across production, distribution and storage, with significantly higher investment and jobs figures expected across the wider supply chain.
The plan sets out an investment profile for the hydrogen value chain, summarising where and when investment will be needed, as well as priorities and future expectations, with the intention to update it as the hydrogen economy develops. On production, for example, priorities include de-risking capital investment and increasing the visibility of the pipeline and opportunities to investors and project developers. It is expecting it to be broadly investible by the end of 2023, with economic and commercial frameworks in place, though some infrastructure and market barriers will remain.
As well as profiling transport and storage and industrial and end use investments, the plan commits government to hosting regular roundtables with a wide range of investors moving forwards to take stock of the progress that has been made and ensure that its policies are on track to mobilise the £9bn worth of investment required to meet the 2030 ambition.
Elsewhere, when it comes to supply chains, it noted that a BEIS-commissioned review has developed understanding of what is needed to deliver a successful and prosperous hydrogen economy, with key actions moving forward set to include working with industry to continue mapping supply chain capabilities and opportunities as the hydrogen economy develops; providing visibility of future hydrogen projects and supply chain opportunities; working with trade associations and industry to deliver supply chain events, including future “Meet the Specifier” events; and asking industry to lead a process to voluntarily set levels of ambition for supply chain participation in UK hydrogen projects.
On hydrogen jobs and skills, the plan pledges to drive forward action through the Green Jobs Delivery Group; to launch the Hydrogen Early Career Professionals Forum by Autumn 2022; for government to work with the Engineering Construction Training Board to develop understanding of capability and capacity across the skills needed for the hydrogen economy; and to continue to work with the devolved administrations in an effort to support the implementation of Skills Action Plans. It also noted that in 2023, the government will co-host an International Green Skills Conference with the higher and further education sectors, seeking to exhibit the best of UK green skills and education opportunities at these levels, including hydrogen.
The report also maps out actions to support exports of the UK hydrogen economy, with the ambition to position the UK as a future exporter of low carbon hydrogen, to promote export opportunities to UK businesses in priority markets, to ensure the UK position on hydrogen is actively considered in trade negotiations, and to signpost supply chains and overseas buyers to finance support offered by UK Export Finance.