The Welsh government has set out a series of initial objectives geared towards developing a hydrogen energy sector in Wales.
On 18 January, it launched a consultation, seeking views on a hydrogen pathway, based on the findings of a Hydrogen Development in Wales: baselining report, published back in December. Within that report, key findings included that Wales is already home to world-leading hydrogen research and development projects and facilities, as well as that it has considerable expertise in the safe generation, storage, transport and use of hydrogen, primarily as an industrial gas in South Wales. This means there is a “solid foundation” for further development of hydrogen energy applications in Wales.
Within the consultation, the Welsh government set out a proposed pathway with the aim of informing activities to take place in the short-term – to 2025. Through ten key objectives, it is aiming to build momentum and lay the foundations for scale-up and commercial deployment from the end of the 2020s.
To create consistent demand for low-carbon hydrogen, it has recommended deploying 200 fuel cell buses in a town, city or region in Wales; undertaking work to establish Wales as an early market for commercial fuel cell vehicles, noting that initiatives to coordinate demand for hydrogen fuel cell vans and trucks are already underway at a UK level; considering support for vehicle manufacturers, such as Riversimple; and working to attract vehicle integrators to Wales, as currently there are a lack of fuel cell vehicle options on offer.
It further called for the deployment of fuel cell trains in Wales, replacing diesel trains on several rural rail lines; the establishment of at least one renewable hydrogen production site that is 10MW or more by 2023/24; and scoping large-scale hydrogen production sites, acknowledging that there is a need to plan low carbon or renewable hydrogen production and delivery facilities in parallel with the deployment of initial, smaller scale ones.
It also cited scoping industrial decarbonisation through skills development and R&D, supporting local projects and place-based approaches, and engagement with other hydrogen initiatives as key objectives to build momentum towards a Welsh hydrogen energy sector.
The proposed objectives will be further refined, based on feedback, and developed into projects that can then be delivered in Wales. The deadline for responses to the consultation is 9 April 2021.