The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has revealed that the UK has fallen from second to eighth place in the International Hydrogen Progress Index.
Research conducted by the ENA’s gas members and trade association Hydrogen UK has highlighted the UK’s diminishing role in the international hydrogen landscape and the organisations are now urging government to support the roll out of the clean energy carrier.
According to the index, in 2021, the UK was ranked second in the international hydrogen ecosystem, second only to South Korea, with the nation making significant progress towards the utilisation of hydrogen to achieve net zero.
However, progress has somewhat stalled in the UK which has allowed other nations to take full advantage with their own expansion of hydrogen. The ENA referenced the USA, Germany, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands and France as the countries to leapfrog the UK.
One of the main issues with the UK’s hydrogen rollout is that the political uncertainty around the technology has meant that policies and funding arrangements are currently falling short in comparison to rival markets. This uncertainty has also led to no major projects having been progressed to the final investment decision stage since 2021, the ENA said.
On the topic of political uncertainty surrounding hydrogen, Clare Jackson, CEO of Hydrogen UK, said: “Policy delays and lack of clarity from government has slowed the progression of low-carbon hydrogen projects. We are still waiting for the Energy Bill to be passed, which was introduced to Parliament over a year ago. The UK has the capability and innovation to be a global hydrogen leader, and we urge government to prioritise our recommendations to achieve this.”
To regain momentum, ENA’s gas members and Hydrogen UK have set out four recommendations for industry and government to deliver growth. These include moving faster and being more flexible with production support, identifying and supporting strategic infrastructure investment now, giving clarity on the minimum roles for hydrogen in industry, power, transport and heat, with support measures to make high-carbon expensive and low-carbon low cost as well as maximising the “significant economic opportunity” on offer by stimulating domestic supply chains.
“The UK was streets ahead of the global competition in 2021 in the race to use hydrogen to help build a decarbonised energy system, but UK industry has been forced to watch other countries catch up and risk leaving us behind. The hydrogen industry wants to continue to work closely with government to jointly deliver a long-term vision for a decarbonised UK. By working together, we can regain pole position,” said Silvia Simon, head of hydrogen at the Energy Networks Association.
The UK government has been cautious in its approach to hydrogen. Despite major backing, its initial Hydrogen Strategy set a goal of just 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen production by 2030 – significantly lower than countries such as the US, Germany and Australia.
A negative response from industry prompted this figure to be increased to 10GW, with 5GW to come from green hydrogen.
You can find out more about green hydrogen and its potential in the UK market in a Current± blog here.