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UK Hydrogen Strategy ‘lacks the ambition to be world leading’

Industry insight by Rob Bloom, Delta-EE

The UK government’s long-delayed national hydrogen strategy has been warmly welcomed by Delta-EE.

A standard for clean hydrogen and a contract for difference-style incentive for hydrogen production by 2022 are truly ambitious targets that will be vital in the development of new market mechanisms and business models to help drive the development of the sector.

However, the strategy lacks the ambition to be ‘world-leading’. By 2030, Germany is providing €9bn in funding and targeting 5GW solely for green hydrogen production, while France is providing €7bn and targeting 6.5GW of ‘carbon free’ production.

The UK, with far less than £1bn announced and a target of 5GW that includes blue hydrogen, could be considered unambitious.

Read full details of the UK Hydrogen Strategy here

In heating, the strategy anticipates that by 2030, less than 70,000 homes could be heated by hydrogen (<1 TWh), but in a positive scenario this could rise to over 3 million homes by 2035 (45 TWh).

If hydrogen for heating is given the go ahead as part broader strategic decisions in 2026 on heat decarbonization, hydrogen could very quickly become a significant part of the mix, complementing heat networks and electric heat pumps where those technologies are not viable.

This would be a true differentiator for the UK compared to the rest of Europe. Delta-EE modelling has shown that there is no one heating solution which is consistently cheaper in all applications and supports the view that all three solutions will be necessary with around 20% of homes best suited to hydrogen heating on economic grounds alone.

Further industry reaction to Hydrogen Strategy
UK has ‘fired the starting gun on scaling hydrogen’
UK energy bodies back government’s Hydrogen Strategy

By including blue hydrogen in its target for production, the UK has certainly set itself apart from most European nations.

However, it remains to be seen whether there will be separate approaches for blue and green hydrogen in the forthcoming standards or whether a distinction will be made between these methods on carbon emissions – decisions that will undoubtedly affect the eventual split between these production methods.

Come November, the eyes of the world will be upon us at COP26, and yet it remains unclear how much of our 5GW of production will be renewable or fossil based, how big a role hydrogen will play in heating, and whether we can truly call our strategy world-leading.

Rob Bloom is an analyst and Global Hydrogen Intelligence Service Manager at Delta-EE.