The government has revealed plans to kick-start a “hydrogen revolution” in the UK, with the aim of replacing fossil fuels in sectors such as transport and heavy industry.
The wide-ranging ‘Hydrogen Strategy’ comes as a result of the prime minster’s pledge for a green industrial revolution, under which new petrol and diesel car sales will be banned from 2030.
By then the government estimates that a hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million and support 9000 jobs, potentially rising to £13 billion and 100,000 jobs by 2050 – the target date for the country to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.
Today’s announcement includes a consultation on a £240m Net Zero Hydrogen Fund to support the commercial deployment of hydrogen production plants in the UK, as well as £105m of previously earmarked funding for trials of low-carbon fuel and efficiency solutions, plus a grant for alternatives to red diesel.
Separately, a public consultation has been launched on how best to overcome the current cost gap between fossil fuels and hydrogen.
The government believes hydrogen could deliver 5GW of energy capacity by 2030, and as a replacement for natural gas could power three million homes, businesses, heavy industry and certain elements of the transport sector.
Analysis suggests between 20% and 35% of UK energy consumption by 2050 could be met by hydrogen-based technology, and that a thriving hydrogen economy could equate to the carbon capture of 700 million trees by 2032.
HGVs in particular are an area of interest: unlike passenger vehicles and LCVs, the case for battery-electric lorries is much harder to make due to the implications of weight and excessive charging times.
“Today marks the start of the UK’s hydrogen revolution,” said business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. “This home-grown clean energy source has the potential to transform the way we power our lives and will be essential to tackling climate change and reaching net zero.
“With the potential to provide a third of the UK’s energy in the future, our strategy positions the UK as first in the global race to ramp up hydrogen technology and seize the thousands of jobs and private investment that come with it.”
Last month, Viritech co-founder Matt Faulks warned Autocar that the UK is “in quite grave danger” of scuppering its progress on green energy due to a lack of focus on fuel cell technology. “The problem is we’re rubbish at commercialising it from this point on because we don’t have the infrastructure around it in terms of the governmental support to really drive this forward,” he said.