New committee launched to help UK Government avoid hydrogen policy pitfalls

The Climate Change Committee's (CCC) former vice chair Baroness Brown is among the members of a new 'Hydrogen Policy Commission', which will advise policymakers as the green and blue hydrogen sectors scale up in the UK.

New committee launched to help UK Government avoid hydrogen policy pitfalls

The Hydrogen Strategy was published last August and further details are due this year

Senior representatives from the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats will join Baroness Brown as Commission members, as well as experts in hydrogen from the UK’s private sector and senior academics.

The Commission will, in the first instance, conduct an assessment of the UK Government’s Hydrogen Strategy, with a report due out later this year. It has planned an eight-month engagement programme with representatives from industry and academia, as well as senior officials from national and local government

The Hydrogen Strategy was published last August and builds on the commitment made in the Ten-Point Plan for the UK to host 5GW of “low-carbon” hydrogen generation capacity by 2030.

In a statement, the Commission said it is concerned that the Strategy is not currently ambitious enough – or clear enough on support to meet long-term goals – to attract private investment. Earlier this month, trade body the Energy Networks Association (ENA) recommended that the Government targets 10GW of low-carbon hydrogen generation by 2030 and provides extra funding to deliver this target.

Other concerns that have been voiced about the Strategy include its focus on blue hydrogen, made using natural gas co-located with carbon capture technology; and whether the Government is prioritising the right end-user sectors of hydrogen to maximise cost and carbon savings.

The Commission will assess these concerns as well as identifying a pathway for the UK Government to become a global leader in the export of hydrogen and related technologies. Baroness Brown has stated that, at present, the UK risks “repeating the same mistakes” made with wind turbines and battery technologies, which have allowed nations including China to pull ahead in the global technology race.

“Hydrogen is a real opportunity for the UK, with a key role to play in the resilient zero-carbon energy system we need to meet the challenges of the changing climate and of global politics,” said Baroness Brown. “The UK missed the boat on battery and wind technology, we can’t afford to miss the boat on hydrogen”.

Joining Baroness Brown as Commissioners are Crossbench Peer Baroness Meacher; Lord Hannan, adviser to the UK Board of Trade; Lord McNicol, former Labour Party General Secretary; Lord Oats, former Chief of Staff to the Deputy Prime Minister; Polly Billington, chief executive of UK100; Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram; Tees Valley Combined Authority Mayor Ben Houchen; GMB Union’s acting regional secretary for the North, Hazel Nolan; UNISON Union’s national energy officer Matt Lay; Imperial College London’s professor of process systems engineering Prof Nilay Shah and the Local Government Association’s chair of the environment, economy, housing and transport board, Cllr David Renard.

The UK Government is expected to provide an update on the Hydrogen Strategy by the end of the year. However, last year, green policy progress was broadly plagued by a swathe of delays.

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Sarah George

Comments (1)

  1. Keiron Shatwell says:

    Hydrogen can play a part in the overall "energy mix" alongside other energy sources but we must be very careful not to see it as a Panacea.

    Hydrogen has many downsides –
    It’s very very explosive,
    It leaks out of every pressure vessel and pipe you put it in,
    It takes twice as much energy to make it from water as you get back by combusting it (or in a fuel cell),
    Combustion of Hydrogen produces a very potent greenhouse gas (DiHydrogen Monoxide),
    And more.

    But used well it could clean up the remoter train services that still rely on diesel units (West Highland Lines for example). It has been used for busses for a while in some cities so could help clean up local public transport and could be used to power Council vehicles (bin lorries for example). It’s no good for Private Cars (as BMW will attest after their failed 7 series experiment).

    The key thing is if we go down the Hydrogen route then it MUST be from electrolysis of water and not cracking Methane (CH4) which only produces CO2 which then has to be dealt with. Better to burn the CH4, get all the energy from that then deal with the CO2.

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