A Hydrogen Vision for the UK


E3G, an independent climate change think tank, has just published its recommendations for the strategic use of hydrogen: Between Hope and Hype: A Hydrogen Vision for the UK.

This excellent 35 page report is highly recommended for a serious independent look at how the UK can best use hydrogen to achieve its Net-Zero targets.

For those short of time, the conclusions of the E3G report are reproduced here:


In order to realise the positive benefits that hydrogen can offer for climate targets, jobs and levelling up, the UK Government should focus on green hydrogen development – wherein the greatest gains in the international innovation race can be reaped.

A ‘twin track’ approach that pursues both green and fossil-based, blue hydrogen risks locking in high carbon technologies and infrastructure. Instead, the UK’s competitive advantage lies with its offshore wind potential, which can support green hydrogen development and deployment in key industrial clusters and hubs.

A system-wide stock take is required to identify where green hydrogen does – and does not – add value and provides the most cost-effective route for decarbonisation.

This paper considers the key factors that should underpin BEIS’s forthcoming Hydrogen Strategy, and presents evidence to inform a strategic vision that supports key Government priorities – including an inclusive and resilient economic recovery from the pandemic; demonstrating climate leadership and progressing towards emission reduction targets; and reducing regional inequalities through the ‘levelling up’ agenda. Key recommendations are summarised below.

A hydrogen strategy for an inclusive and resilient economic recovery

There is a role for zero-emissions green hydrogen to support competitive industrial clusters, located across the country to support the ‘levelling up’ agenda, with successful delivery strongly dependent on a rapid upscaling of renewable electricity generation and efficiency gains to reduce overall energy demand. To take this opportunity, green hydrogen must be strategically developed and deployed in sectors and regions where it adds most value, i.e. where other decarbonisation pathways are not currently available.

A hydrogen strategy for climate leadership

The UK’s competitive advantage can be secured if it chooses a green hydrogen path, sourced through harnessing the full potential of the country’s offshore wind resources. Blue, fossil-derived hydrogen depends on continued imports of fossil gas, whereas a focus on green can be supported through the UK’s enormous offshore wind potential.

Fossil hydrogen with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – blue hydrogen – is not zero emissions, due to limitations of CCS, and methane leakages during gas production and transportation. Developing blue hydrogen does not accelerate development of green hydrogen on the supply side, since these are fundamentally different technologies.

Governance mechanisms are needed to avoid a locking in of fossil-derived fuels, with clear timelines and targets, accountability mechanisms, and regulations and standards which support the phase-out – for example, through a rising carbon intensity limit.

Rather than a ‘twin track’ approach, the UK should focus on green hydrogen. Doubling down on green hydrogen could play a significant role in addressing the next generation of deep climate challenges – including the decarbonisation of industry, freight and balancing the electricity system.

A hydrogen strategy that delivers for all

Understanding how and where hydrogen can most add value requires a system-wide analysis of the costs and benefits of different decarbonisation pathways, understanding which ones are most cost-efficient for the taxpayer, which offer the best option for consumers – including the most vulnerable – and which provide the best boost for green employment and skills.

For example, a growing evidence base suggests that hydrogen does not present a strategically credible option to decarbonise heat, and could lead to higher bills. Instead, to get on track for net zero heating, a sustained effort must be made this decade to deploy heat pumps in a way that makes the most of the inherent cost advantages and improves people's lives. In light of the evolving science and potential conflicts of interest of market players, rigorous and independent analysis and systems governance must be ensured.



The GSHPA recommends you read this impressive report in full. It is well written and carefully supported by 80 cited references.



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