UK government remains focused on creating world-leading hydrogen economy

Posted on 31 October 2022

Thousands of jobs, billions of investments and new export opportunities will be created through government measures to deliver a low-carbon hydrogen industry in the UK over the next few years.

The UK Hydrogen Strategy will focus on the national commitment laid out within the 10-Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, setting the foundation for the UK to achieve 5GW of hydrogen capacity by 2030. A thriving hydrogen economy in the UK could be valued at around £900 million and generate over 9,000 industry-specific jobs by 2030, with estimates of rising to 100,000 by 2050.

By 2030, hydrogen could play a critical role in decarbonising challenging, energy-intensive industries like heavy transport and power, enabling these markets to divest from fossil fuels. Government studies suggest that about 20-35% of domestic energy consumption by 2050 could include hydrogen, emphasising how important this energy source is in reaching our net zero goals and reducing emissions by 78% by 2035.

In the UK, a low-carbon hydrogen economy could reduce emissions equivalent to the carbon captured by 700 million trees by 2032. With the capacity to generate a third of the UK’s energy in the future, the strategy places the UK as a potential leader in accelerating hydrogen technology and utilising the thousands of jobs and investments that come with the industry. 

The government’s approach toward hydrogen on the previous success with offshore wind, where early action combined with private backing enabled the nation to become a global leader.

Dr Graham Cooley, the CEO of ITM Power, explains that the industry requires a policy structure that determines priorities and support mechanisms to enable the acceleration of green hydrogen production, and that is what the hydrogen strategy focuses on delivering.

Green hydrogen can drastically reduce emissions from industry, transport and heat. It can be used to store renewable energy from wind and, for the long term, utilised to create export markets.

Antony Green, Hydrogen Director at National Grid, believes the strategy represents the UK’s commitment to hydrogen and provides assurance to boost confidence toward commercial plans. Capturing the potential of hydrogen requires accelerated innovation to increase production, and support from the government will be vital to unlocking investment and support to achieve this.

Frank Gordon, the Director of Policy at the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), believes the strategy provides clarity and certainty for investors to deliver a low-carbon pathway. Gordon states that the plans create a more positive vision for the role of hydrogen in meeting the UK’s net zero ambitions.

Hydrogen and CCUS are considered valuable sources for industries that will be difficult to decarbonise with electricity. The UK has great potential for hydrogen CCUS, both of which can create new jobs, especially in areas with a solid industrial and energy background.

Low-carbon hydrogen has a critical role in reducing emissions in challenging sectors. The key to accelerating production and decreasing the cost of low-carbon hydrogen will be combining demonstration projects, and investment in skills with increased clarity on the market mechanisms industry can depend on to make a clear return on investment.

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