Hydrogen networks critical to UK’s energy security strategy 

hydrogen networks

new industry report has found that, to reach net zero targets and address the UK’s need for energy security, it is critical to have a hydrogen network that supports a strong hydrogen economy. Accelerating hydrogen networks will play a critical role in easing pressure on the already fragile UK electrical system and reduce costs by making use of current assets. 

The report, undertaken by Hydrogen UK and its members, makes five key recommendations for the acceleration of hydrogen networks to boost the UK hydrogen economy. These include taking interim measures to facilitate design and planning before the design of Transport Business Models; designing Regulated Asset Base models in both growth and steady state phases; creating a strategic planning body which facilitates the coordination between networks and storage infrastructure projects; political commitment to the development of a national network of 100 per cent hydrogen pipelines; and determining a national strategy to decarbonise industry.

Hydrogen is expected to play a significant role in the UK’s future energy mix. The Energy Security Strategy increased the UK’s hydrogen production ambition to 10 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. Developing 100 per cent hydrogen networks is crucial to meeting this aim and ensuring the decarbonisation benefit is felt in end-use sectors across the country. 

Announcing the report’s publication, Hydrogen UK’s head of policy Brett Ryan said: “We know that hydrogen will play a vital role in the UK’s transition to net zero. This report highlights the importance of accelerating the deployment of hydrogen networks for boosting UK energy security and help the UK reach its net zero commitments. Achieving 100 per cent hydrogen networks across the country is vital if the government’s recent commitment to increase hydrogen production to 10 GW by 2030 is to become a reality.”  

“Hydrogen UK’s report highlights how we can capture the existing benefits of our network infrastructure to transition to net zero as quickly as possible. Networks will be instrumental in supporting the development of the UK’s hydrogen economy, nurturing world leading sectors from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight,” said Joss Clarke, head of external affairs at SGN. “Net zero will need the UK to design a whole system architecture that enables a mix of hydrogen, green gas, electric and hybrid solutions to be deployed. To deliver this, we must allow for investment in low carbon technologies while minimising cost risks to consumers and incentivising investors to help secure and grow jobs and the UK economy.” 

The role of gas networks is to move grid scale quantities of energy in a reliable, efficient, and cost-effective manner. Crucially, existing gas networks hold the potential to transport hydrogen, through the repurposing of current pipelines and the construction of new ones.  

Hydrogen networks are an important requirement for the successful implementation of a secure and resilient hydrogen economy for the UK. They are fundamental in harnessing the unique potential hydrogen offers in decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors. Hydrogen networks will allow the UK to make the most of its natural strengths and connect geographically constrained assets that will be critical in decarbonising the energy system.  

This report marks the second in a series of reports from Hydrogen UK – the UK’s largest and leading hydrogen trade association – that it will be publishing throughout 2023. The previous report, ‘Hydrogen Storage: Delivery on the UK’s Energy Needs, was released in December 2022.

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