Green hydrogen tank

UK falls behind on green hydrogen race, trade bodies warn

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The UK has dropped from second to eighth place on the International Hydrogen Progress Index between 2021 and 2023.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) and Hydrogen UK urged the government to “regain the momentum” in the low-carbon hydrogen industry after being overtaken by leading economies.

The two organisations have published the International Hydrogen Progress Index, a report that measures how attractive national markets are for hydrogen generation and infrastructure. 

In 2021, the UK ranked as the second-most attractive market after South Korea. Two years later, the country has dropped to eighth place in the ranking, behind Germany, the US, Japan, Canada, South Korea, the Netherlands and France. 

“Though some progress has been made, the US, Germany, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands and France have all leapfrogged the UK at a time when competition to attract international investment in energy infrastructure has dramatically increased,” the report says. 

The authors of the report stressed that, although the UK has doubled its hydrogen production target for 2030 to 10GW, no significant low-carbon hydrogen production projects in the UK have yet reached a final investment decision. 

The ENA added that the UK government has failed to support its targets with clear enough interventions designed to make production and other infrastructure cost-effective.

In order to address these concerns, experts have recommended that the UK streamline support for hydrogen production, making it more flexible and efficient. Moreover, it also advised the government to identify and support strategic infrastructure investments and provide clear guidance to define hydrogen’s role across key sectors, such as industry, power, transport and heating. 

Clare Jackson, CEO of Hydrogen UK, said: “Policy delays and lack of clarity from the government have slowed the progression of low-carbon hydrogen projects. We are still waiting for the Energy Bill to be passed, which was introduced to parliament over a year ago.”

Silvia Simon, head of hydrogen at ENA, added: “The UK was streets ahead of the global competition in 2021 in the race to use hydrogen to help build a decarbonised energy system, but UK industry has been forced to watch other countries catch up and risk leaving us behind.”

The findings follow another study by Energy UK, the energy industry trade group, last month that highlighted the “low levels of expected investment in the UK” as other countries, such as the US, boost incentives for clean energy investors.

In June, the Climate Change Committee, the government’s independent adviser, said the UK was making “worryingly slow” progress and had “lost its global leadership” on the road to reaching its stated goal of net zero by 2050.

A spokesperson for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: “We are committed to boosting hydrogen as an important step towards reaching our net zero goals and have a clear ambition to increase hydrogen production capacity by 2030.

“The measures in the Energy Bill will be critical to develop the UK’s hydrogen economy further by enabling the delivery of hydrogen business models and long-term funding arrangements for hydrogen. This will provide investors with the confidence to invest in the hydrogen sector, with the potential to create over 12,000 new jobs by 2030.”

The UK government is consulting on new plans to mandate that all new boilers can generate heat from hydrogen instead of gas from 2026 as part of a set of initiatives aimed at helping households save on energy bills. 

The decision goes against a recent review of more than two dozen independent studies, which concluded that hydrogen will not have a major role in the future of heating homes across Britain.

Earlier this week, Scotland proposed the building of a dedicated pipeline for transporting hydrogen to central Europe.

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