BP and Shell are among the founding members of a new lobby group aiming to persuade the UK government to create a “world-leading hydrogen economy” by investing heavily in H2 technology and production, with a view to meeting 100% of the country’s heating needs from hydrogen.
The Hydrogen Taskforce, which was announced on Monday, unveiled a 34-page report setting out why the government should — as part of its goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 — introduce five new policies to enable hydrogen solutions to be deployed at a commercial scale:
- Development of a cross-departmental hydrogen strategy to ensure joined-up thinking across government
- A commitment to spend £1bn ($1.27bn) on capital-expenditure funding for hydrogen production, storage and distribution projects
- Financial support for the production of hydrogen — for power generation, transport, industrial use and blending into the gas grid.
- Amending regulations to enable hydrogen to be blended into the UK gas grid and “to take the next steps towards 100% hydrogen heating through supporting public trials and mandating hydrogen-ready boilers by 2025”
- Collaboration to build 100 hydrogen refueling stations for road transport by 2025.
Hydrogen-ready boilers initially operate on natural gas, but can be converted to run on hydrogen at a later date after a short engineer visit— ie, when the gas grid is switched to run on H2. If all boilers sold in the UK by 2025 are hydrogen-ready, it would be relatively straightforward to switch local, regional or national gas networks to H2 in the future, the taskforce argues.
The report does not state a preference for whether the hydrogen should be produced from renewable energy (green hydrogen) or natural gas with carbon capture and storage (blue hydrogen).
Leading electrolyser manufacturer ITM Power appears to be the only one of the ten founding companies to be focused purely on green hydrogen, and its chief executive Graham Cooley recently told Recharge that the government was being “sold a pup” on blue hydrogen. ITM does, however, argue in favour of converting the gas grid to run on hydrogen.
The other members of the new cross-industry coalition are boiler-maker Baxi, Engie subsidiary Storengy (whose remit includes renewable gases), gas network Cadent, industrial gases giant BOC, engineering firm Arup, French bank BNP Paribas, and industrial engineer DBD.