The United Kingdom has recognised the potential of hydrogen as a clean energy source and a way to reduce emissions, particularly the transport sector.
The automotive sector and in particular the heavy-duty, off-highway and marine sectors are investing heavily in research and development in hydrogen.
The UK government has set some of the most ambitious global goals to decarbonise the transportation sector, and hydrogen plays a crucial role in their mission. The UK governments commitment is highlighted in the Road to Zero Strategy and the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
The UK aims to establish a nationwide hydrogen network, with a target of 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. The government focus on infrastructure development underlines their commitment to harnessing a hydrogen-powered future.
To accelerate the growth of a hydrogen economy, the UK government has allocated significant funding and resources.
The Hydrogen for Transport Program, launched in 2020, has invested £23 million to support the development of hydrogen refuelling stations. This funding enables the expansion of the network, making hydrogen a sustainable and accessible option for a range of vehicles, from cars, buses and commercial fleets to heavy-duty trucks, off-highway and agriculture.
A collaborative approach plays a vital role in driving the expansion of the UK’s hydrogen infrastructure. Partnerships between government agencies, industry leaders, and research institutions develop a broad scope of innovation and open up a wider knowledge exchange.
One example of this collaborative approach is the HyNet project in Northwest England.
HyNet aims to create the UK’s first low-carbon hydrogen production hub, supplying fuel for transport, industry, and heating.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region has said “Hydrogen from HyNet will enable decarbonisation of hard-to-reach sectors, including heating of homes, fuelling of industry and flexible power generation” (1)
The HyNet project is one of the leading collaborative CO2 removal projects with 5 major industry names capable of removing up to 3 million tonnes of C02 whilst supporting the UK’s net-zero targets.
Hanson Cement, Viridor, Encyclis, Buxton Lime Zero (Tarmac) and Vertex Hydrogen, committed to removing carbon dioxide emissions through the HyNet project, have been announced by Government to move forward in decarbonising their operations creating an entirely new Carbon Capture sector in the Northwest of England and North Wales. (1)
The UK Government have also pledged a £20bn investment into the decarbonisation of industry through CCS and the HyNet project is taking the lead on this project.
The United Kingdom and Germany are both playing pivotal roles in creating significant milestones in hydrogen production for the UK and European renewable energy market.
Both countries have over 400MW of projects in place for 2023, potentially bringing the total installed hydrogen capacity across Europe from around 236MW in 2022 to over 2GW in 2023. The report also indicates that increases in hydrogen capacity could reach over 22GW by the end of 2027.
As part of the United Kingdom’s role in ramping up the hydrogen economy, Ireland is being pitched as a contender for being able to produce the cheapest green hydrogen in Europe by 2030.
Ireland’s competitive advantage stems from its high wind speeds, particularly in the west, compared to other European countries, and rising congestion within the electricity transmission system. (2)
Production under optimal conditions could result in a levelized cost of €3.50/kgH2 (real 2021) in 2030, 8% lower than optimal production costs in Spain and 35% lower than in Germany. (2)
Considering this, the Irish government aims to install 2GW of offshore wind generation connected to electrolysers by 2030, which could produce up to 138kt of green hydrogen annually. (2)
The development of a hydrogen fuelling infrastructure goes hand in hand with the development and deployment of hydrogen-powered vehicles.
The UK has been proactive in encouraging the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in various sectors. Several hydrogen-powered buses already operate in cities like London and Aberdeen and collaborations with the automotive industry are driving the production of hydrogen-powered passenger vehicles, including heavy-duty and off-highway.
The production of green hydrogen offers significant environmental benefits, making it an attractive alternative to conventional fuels. However, the production of green hydrogen only accounts for approximately 3% of the worlds total production When used as a fuel, hydrogen produces only water vapor and emits no harmful pollutants or GHG’s.
By investing in a comprehensive hydrogen infrastructure, the UK aims to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and contribute to its overall climate change mitigation efforts.
Alongside this, hydrogen-powered transportation provides a sustainable and efficient solution for a cleaner future.
The United Kingdom is at the forefront of the hydrogen revolution, recognising its potential to transform the transportation sector. Through ambitious targets, government support, collaborative initiatives, and the expansion of refuelling infrastructure, the UK is paving the way for a hydrogen-powered future.
Written by Katy Mason for and on behalf of Dolphin N2.