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Hydrogen - the catalyst for decarbonising the UK?

Published: 9 May 2019 - Carly Wills

A new report by Arup outlines the steps needed for a successful hydrogen economy in the UK by the year 2035. 

The report, A future hydrogen economy, finds that hydrogen has a potentially significant role to play in decarbonising the whole energy system in the UK, and that this could provide a blueprint for other countries seeking to do the same.  

It highlights the progress already being made in demonstrating the use of hydrogen for transport and heat, stating the need for more policy progress and collaboration between government, a­­cademia, the private sector and other stakeholders to shape future demand, change consumer perception and create the strong supply chains needed to allow the hydrogen economy to thrive.

The report, supported by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), outlines clear steps needed for the UK, and countries like it, to fully embrace hydrogen including:

  • Stronger collaborative efforts between government and private organisations: There is a requirement for the industry to be clear with the government about what is needed to create a unified approach to policy.
  • Sufficient engagement with consumers:At the heart of the hydrogen economy are consumers. It is essential to build their confidence, addressing safety concerns and explaining benefits over time, in a planned and strategic way.
  • Incrementally increasing network capacity: This should be demand led, with production planned to keep pace. 
  • A focus on delivering high-profile projects quickly: Such as hydrogen use in transport, to build confidence, experience and a supply chain needed to tackle more complex challenges.
  • A joined-up system approach with a balance of hydrogen and renewable electricity: Hydrogen and renewables are required to decarbonise the energy system, and they complement each other well.

The report is the result of findings from extensive consultations and workshops with industry stakeholders including investors, government, transport bodies and private multinationals that examined the challenges and opportunities of using hydrogen.

“There is a growing consensus that in tandem with decarbonising the electricity supply, decarbonising gas through hydrogen has a crucial role in tackling climate change and improving air quality,” said energy advisory director, Mark Neller.“This report provides the vision and an integrated road map which represents a significant opportunity for the UK to take a leading role in the hydrogen economy, generating jobs, benefiting the environment, industry and people.”

Arup is the lead consultant on four hydrogen projects in the UK including the Hy4Heat programme. This is a three-year feasibility study that aims to establish if it is technically possible, safe and convenient for consumers to replace methane with hydrogen in existing domestic properties in the UK.



 
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