UK Hydrogen Champion Jane Toogood has called on the UK government to create a plan for an integrated energy infrastructure to incorporate gas, electricity and hydrogen, with potential savings of up to £38 billion.
Outlined within the Hydrogen Champion Report: Recommendations to government and industry to accelerate the development of the UK hydrogen economy, Toogood believes that expanding the proposed role of the Future Systems Operator (FSO) to include the development of a strategic plan for a hydrogen network could bolster the UK market.
Creating a hydrogen network could be vital for the budding industry. For a number of years, the government has outlined plans to create business models for hydrogen infrastructure with a plan set in place to have this delivered by 2025. Incorporating the hydrogen network into the existing electricity and gas network planning responsibilities could maximise cost efficiencies.
Toogood’s Hydrogen Champion role involves being an independent advisor to government and industry on the development of the UK hydrogen economy, while she is also the chief executive of chemicals firm Johnson Matthey’s Catalyst Technologies business.
Alongside this, the creation of an early plan on the deliverance of a hydrogen network could increase investor confidence and create the correct market signals to see this technology expanded across the UK. It is also important to ensure the UK is not left behind by international competitors.
The report additionally calls on the government to provide clarity for the next set of hydrogen clusters to be established up and down the country.
Highlighted within the report is the Scottish Cluster which has “excellent large-scale hydrogen opportunities” and the South-West Cluster, which although is further behind in its planning than Scotland, has “outstanding hydrogen opportunity” centred around aviation innovation.
Toogood believes the government must provide a clear scale-up plan to follow for connecting the hydrogen economy across UK regions. It should also provide early clarity for the Scottish and South-West clusters about the timing and process to attract and retain investment. Doing so could greatly benefit the rest of the UK’s hydrogen industry.
Investment within the UK’s hydrogen sector could be crucial in order to support innovation and scale its competitiveness with its US and European neighbours. This had also been referenced by Toogood as she laid out further recommendations to kickstart investment in the sector.
The report calls on the government to: “Kickstart investment by overcoming barriers to deliver the first carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS)-enabled and electrolytic hydrogen production projects at scale. This will boost investor confidence, build project momentum and drive UK content”.
Several supporting actions had been outlined within the report. This includes the establishment of set dates for pending final Net Zero Hydrogen Fund (NZHF) and Hydrogen Production Business Model (HPBM) project decisions.
Toogood also believes that the government must resolve early cross-chain risk sharing affecting CCUS-enabled hydrogen production producers and their industrial consumers through additional protection in the business model.
Another method to scale investment in hydrogen would be to set targets for each electrolytic funding round, the report said, with this able to then deliver world-scale electrolyser projects to drive the UK market.
Current±’s publisher Solar Media will host the Green Hydrogen Summit on 18-19 April 2023 in Lisbon. The event will explore green hydrogen role in shipping, its production, supply chains, financing and renewable hydrogen derivatives and their applications. For more information, go to the website.
The report from UK Hydrogen Champion Jane Toogood is a timely welcome for the industry and showcases the sheer potential of the ever-growing UK hydrogen market.
With input from over 100 stakeholders, the report provides the government with clear policy and regulatory recommendations it can make to support the sector. But this must be actioned upon quickly to ensure the UK does not miss out on the crucial investment that is needed to bolster its domestic hydrogen market.