Thousands of new jobs could be created by investing in low-carbon hydrogen fuel to power vehicles and heat homes, the government says.
Ministers unveiled a plan to kickstart a hydrogen industry. They claim it could bring in billions of dollars in investments.
Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary of the UK, stated that fuel is also crucial for UK’s efforts towards net zero emission.
It could provide energy for a third of the UK in the future, he said.
Subventions have been suggested to bridge the cost gap due to the higher costs of hydrogen production than for existing fuels. This plan is under review by the government.
The potential of hydrogen is also supported by Labour, however the government has not invested as well as in other countries.
Using hydrogen gas as a fuel produces no carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution. You can use it to fuel your electric vehicle engines or a turbine that produces electricity.
It is therefore a versatile, low-carbon fuel, which can be used in cars, trains and trucks, and heats our homes.
According to the government, 5GW of hydrogen production capacity will be available by 2030. This industry is expected to generate PS900m in revenue and provide support for more than 9000 jobs.
Today marks the beginning of the UK’s hydrogen revolution. “This home-grown, clean energy source can transform how we live and it will help us tackle climate change.” said Mr Kwarteng.
“Our strategy places the UK first in the race to boost hydrogen technology globally and capture the thousands of private investments and jobs that go with it.”
To reach net zero in 2050, we must reduce emissions to the maximum extent possible. Then balance out remaining emissions by planting trees and burying CO2 underground.
A government study has shown that hydrogen could play a significant role in reaching this goal. It is estimated that 20-35% of UK’s energy consumption will be hydrogen-based by 2050.
According to government estimates, a low-carbon hydrogen economy would result in emissions reductions equivalent to that of 700 million trees. This would decarbonize polluting industries like chemical production, oil refining, and heavy transport such shipping and rail.
Alan Whitehead MP (Labour’s shadow minister of energy and green new deal), said that hydrogen power played a significant role in the decarbonisation process.
He added that the delayed publication of this hydrogen strategy must be followed-up with immediate action. We will be judging the government on this because we have seen too many warm statements and climate targets made by the Tories without any concrete steps.
It is disappointing that Conservatives failed to invest as much as other countries, and that key decisions such as mandating all boilers be hydrogen-ready have been delayed.
Subsidies for hydrogen are being proposed by the government, in the same vein as those that helped lower the price of offshore wind power.
The infrastructure that supports hydrogen power will be reviewed, which is thought to be expensive by some.
Ministers support a dual-track approach for hydrogen production.
Blue hydrogen, also known as fossil fuels, is produced but can be reduced by underground storage and capture of greenhouse gases. Green hydrogen, meanwhile, is made using renewable energy.
Although blue hydrogen may not be as pure as green hydrogen, it’s still cheaper.
According to environmental campaigners, the focus on blue hydrogen is not enough. Jess Ralston is an analyst with the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. She said that the government must be open to the possibility of the gas industry lobbying to cause it to invest too heavily in blue hydrogen and keep the country stuck to fossil fuel-based technology. She said that this would increase the difficulty and cost of reaching net zero.
Philip Dunne, MP, chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, stated: “While we like the dual track approach, which supports both green and blue hydrogen production, it’s important to have substantial carbon capture capacity so that there is no release of harmful emissions from blue hydrogen production.”
In fact, one study by researchers in the US has suggested that blue hydrogen could release more carbon than burning natural gas.
The Regulatory Assistance Project is an organization dedicated to accelerating the transition towards clean energy. Dr Jan Rosenow stated that “as the strategy admits there won’t be substantial quantities of low carbon hydrogen for some time. It should be used where gas is scarce and not to replace it.
According to him, the plan confirms that hydrogen for heating homes won’t play an important role in the future. According to the government strategy, less than 0.2% homes will use hydrogen for heating in the coming decade. Hydrogen will therefore play a marginal role in reducing carbon emissions over the next decade.
We cannot afford to wait for 2030 before we reduce the heat emitted. Bold policy actions are required now because of the urgency of climate crisis.
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Publiated at Tue 17 August 2021, 13:33.12 (+0000).