• A new paper from the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association states that blue hydrogen is essential to the UK’s transition to low carbon energy
  • Industry wants to see clear direction and support from Government including the setting of standards for the production of low carbon hydrogen and the introduction of funding to make production commercially viable

A new report published today by the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association highlights the crucial role that blue hydrogen can play in helping the UK transition to low carbon energy and achieve its 2035 and 2050 net zero targets. The report states that in the near-term blue hydrogen will be the fastest way to deploy large volumes of low carbon hydrogen across the UK economy and support the ramp up of green hydrogen production in the longer term.

Blue hydrogen is the process of converting natural gas to hydrogen and CO2, with the CO2 being sent to geological storage sites. All blue hydrogen projects underway in the UK are setting a high bar in terms of carbon capture with over 95% CO2 removal from the process considered a minimum. As the process involves the conversion of natural gas, blue hydrogen can prolong the economic life of the UKs existing gas infrastructure and can support a ‘just transition’ for the UK’s oil and gas industry which contributes greatly to the UK economy.

The report states that with the right policy support from Government, the UK could deploy 10GW of blue hydrogen by 2030. This is more than the UK’s current combined nuclear power capacity. It also suggests that this could reach up to 80GW by 2050. In order to deliver this, the UK HFCA is calling for a number of policies to be implemented by the UK Government. Recommendations include:

  • Setting and implementing strong standards for the production of low carbon hydrogen – Government needs to ensure that blue carbon emission emissions standards are standardised and trusted;
  • The introduction of Government support – akin to subsidy mechanisms already in place for renewables – in order to make production commercially viable;
  • An industry wide plan for boosting hydrogen exports and imports.

Commenting on the paper, Energy, Clean Growth & Climate Change Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP said: “I welcome this paper from the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association. It clearly highlights the role CCUS-enabled or ‘blue’ hydrogen can play in reaching the UK’s legally binding climate change commitments, and in helping to provide flexible energy across heat, power and transport.

“It comes ahead of us publishing our first ever Hydrogen Strategy this year. We have already set out our ambition for this new technology, to generate significant amounts of energy in the coming years and support thousands of jobs.”

Many of the current blue hydrogen projects in the UK are based in clusters where blue hydrogen can both be produced and service multiple sectors such as industrial processes. Such a cluster-based approach allows the sharing of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) infrastructure helping to drive the decarbonisation of surrounding industries and lowering the cost of CCUS infrastructure. The UK Government has plans to establish CCUS in at least two industrial clusters by the mid-2020s. The main contenders for the UK’s cluster are located in Scotland, the North West, the Humber and Teesside.

Commenting Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, said: “Here in Teesside we are already leading the way in developing hydrogen as a fuel source. We will be home to the government’s first hydrogen transport hub which will research and trial hydrogen across all forms of transport. Northern Gas Networks is conducting a world-first trial of hydrogen in the domestic gas pipes that have been isolated from the rest of the domestic network. And bp will create the UK’s largest “blue” hydrogen production facility in Teesside. 

“From offshore wind to pioneering work on hydrogen Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are paving the way for the UK to be net zero by 2050 and our position at the centre of the clean energy revolution will create thousands of good-quality, well-paid jobs for local people for generations to come.”

Commenting on the report Celia Greaves, CEO of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, said: “Our report shows how the UK is uniquely placed to take advantage of the opportunities from low carbon blue hydrogen. The UK HFCA supports the UK’s Governments strategy of a technology agnostic approach to hydrogen as we know that both blue and green hydrogen will play a key part in helping the Government achieve their Net Zero goals. However, if the Government is to achieve their ambitions, the upcoming Hydrogen Strategy needs to provide clarity and greater certainty around the support that will be available for hydrogen. This will enable the investment to flow in time so we can get production going in time to meet the UK’s 2035 78% carbon reduction target.”

Sam French Business Development Director at UK HFCA member Johnson Matthey stated: “Blue hydrogen offers an exciting opportunity to help the UK meet its carbon reduction targets up to 2050 as well as supporting economic growth throughout the UK. This report shows the vast potential that exists for the sector. The next step for industry is to deploy technology at scale. Investment and clear rules from the Government will be crucial.”

Commenting on the report, Rob Butler, Partner and Co-Head of the Global Hydrogen and CCUS Practice at international law firm Baker Botts, said: “This report demonstrates that blue hydrogen is critical to the UK government’s net zero ambitions, and that with the right level of investment the UK can become a world leader in blue hydrogen. However, if the UK is going to ramp up low-carbon hydrogen production capacity significantly by 2030, then certainty is needed as to the government support that will be available for these early projects. In addition, a robust mechanism for certifying blue or lower-carbon hydrogen is required, whether by seeking to join the EU’s CertifHy scheme or by development of the UK’s own scheme, to provide purchasers and end consumers with the much-needed confidence that the hydrogen they have purchased or indirectly consumed is blue or lower-carbon.”

The report titled The Case for Blue Hydrogen is available here.

ENDS

About the UK HFCA

The UK HFCA is the oldest and largest pan UK association, dedicated to supporting stakeholders across the entire value chain of both the Hydrogen sector and the Fuel Cell industry. Our members represent over 200,000 employees globally, with combined revenues over £400 billion, and cover the entire value chain from raw material sourcing, to supply chain and components, financing, professional services, B2B and consumer facing solutions. With over 15 years of experience, the UK HFCA is a leader in advocating for and accelerating the transition to Net Zero in the UK through the deployment of hydrogen & fuel cell solutions.

Blue Hydrogen ‘essential to the UK’s Net Zero ambitions’ says new industry report