New report sets steps to unlocking five GW of green hydrogen in UK

five GW hydrogen

RenewableUK has published a series of key policy recommendations in a new report to help the Government achieve its target of 10 GW of low carbon hydrogen by 2030, including at least five gigawatts (GW) from green hydrogen production. The aim is to boost the UK’s energy security by replacing expensive imported gas with a clean home-grown energy source, and open up the possibility of making the most of the vast quantities of electricity generated from renewables.   

Green hydrogen can be produced in electrolysers which split water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity generated by wind and other renewables. It can play a major role in keeping the grid balanced at all times, offering vital flexibility to clean energy systems. In the longer term, green hydrogen can be stored underground in vast quantities to help manage fluctuations in energy demand on a seasonal basis, instead of using fossil fuels. It can be used as a replacement for fossil fuels in heavy-duty transport, and in a wide variety of other sectors, such as aviation, shipping, and energy-intensive industries.

The new report, entitled “Green Hydrogen: Optimising Net Zero”, shows that a UK-wide green hydrogen economy has the potential to create thousands of highly-skilled jobs throughout the country, as well as provide the opportunity to become an exporter of green hydrogen, especially to mainland Europe. ITM Power, for example, has already established the world’s first electrolyser gigafactory in Sheffield and has sold electrolysers to the world’s largest hydrogen plant in Germany.

The policy recommendations for Government include setting out a detailed roadmap showing how five GW of green hydrogen capacity can be secured by 2030, including a supportive planning regime that would enable electrolysers to be built alongside wind farms. RenewableUK is also urging Ministers to exempt electrolysers from some charges for access to the grid.

The report also includes calls for the introduction of a standard that specifically promotes green hydrogen as a zero-carbon fuel, making it clear that other types of low-carbon hydrogen do not have this pedigree. BEIS are being urged to ensure that all types of green hydrogen projects, big or small, can receive support under the Hydrogen Business Model, which is similar to Contracts for Difference for other renewables.

Barriers in the planning system also need to be addressed, by introducing more funding and clearer and simpler rules nationwide which will allow for the construction large green hydrogen projects faster. The same applies to the regulatory system, which does not yet take account of the overriding need to reach net-zero as fast as possible.

The report was written by RenewableUK’s emerging technologies policy analyst, Laurie Heyworth, who said: “If ever there was a time to step up our efforts to replace expensive gas with a clean, flexible fuel which fulfills the same role but uses cheap renewables instead, it’s right now. This report explains how we can start to switch from an over-priced fossil fuel from abroad to a new home-grown zero-carbon source of power by building at least 5GW of green hydrogen capacity by 2030.

“Expanding our capacity to produce green hydrogen will enable us to make full use of the enormous amounts of clean power we’re producing from renewables. This could help consumers as well as boost the UK’s energy security, because making hydrogen using renewables is set to become cheaper than using fossil fuels which are prone to volatility and global price shocks. This will allow us to take huge strides forward on decarbonisation and move closer towards energy independence over the course of this decade”.

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