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Hydrogen in the South West

  • by JW

New infrastructure, new partnerships.

But the UK plan to boost hydrogen production relies on fossil fuels.


Hydrogen technologies seem to be lifting off in the South West, with two reports from today’s Business Live:

Firstly, there is a new network of hydrogen hubs:

Hydrogen refuelling stations for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are set to be built in the South West following a major deal. Element 2, a UK hydrogen refuelling business, signed the agreement with Tower Group, a distributor of the natural gas, which is building hydrogen hubs in Devon and Cornwall as part of a larger ecosystem it’s establishing in the region. HGV hydrogen refuelling stations to be built in South West following major deal – Business Live

Element 2 are ambitious: 

We’re building the first national network of hydrogen refuelling stations (HRS) across the UK and Ireland, to enable the rapid transition of heavy road vehicles and municipal fleets to a zero carbon, zero emissions future. Home – Element 2

And Tower Group are big in the States: Tower Energy Group | LinkedIn

Secondly, a new grouping has formed in these parts to push for ‘decarbonisation’:

Nine organisations in the South West have announced a major new partnership as part of efforts to decarbonise industry and drive regional growth. The group, which spans aerospace, shipping, hi-tech engineering and public utilities, have joined forces in a bid to develop a new hydrogen infrastructure ecosystem. Under the banner Hydrogen South West (HSW), the consortium will look to enable cross-sector partnerships to produce, utilise, capture, store and transport the element across the area. Airbus and Bristol Airport part of major new South West hydrogen group – Business Live

Hydrogen South West is very much about connecting the various players:

These dynamic organisations have joined forces to create Hydrogen South West, an infrastructure ecosystem that brings the benefits of hydrogen to the South West of England. The collaboration creates links between supply and demand centres in the region, and enables cross-sector partnerships that will drive the development of hydrogen infrastructure and technology. Hydrogen South West

And late last year they secured serious state funding: Hydrogen facility near Bristol secures £2.5m funding – Business Live

The UK government is really pushing hydrogen: UK Hydrogen Strategy and Hydrogen infrastructure requirements up to 2035 – GOV.UK

There has been some positive response from analysists: Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner – UK’s Hydrogen Strategy: the real deal or just a lot of hot air?

Although the production of hydrogen does depend on fossil fuels:

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said it is mulling over subsidies similar to ones for offshore windfarms to bring down the cost of both blue hydrogen, made from natural gas but with most of the CO2 captured, and green hydrogen, where renewable electricity is used with electrolysers that produce hydrogen from water. “It’s not a surprise the UK is backing both,” says Anise Ganbold at Aurora Energy Research in the UK. “It’s what the UK has been pushing for, and not a surprise given how strong the gas lobby is. At the moment, it is cheaper to make hydrogen from blue, but we don’t think that will last for long. We think green will be cheaper by the 2030s.” Blue hydrogen is opposed by some environmentalists, partly because at best it only captures 95 per cent of the CO2, raising questions over its role in hitting net-zero targets. UK plan to boost hydrogen production relies on fossil fuels | New Scientist

In the end, we need to be realistic about its possibilities: Hydrogen can help decarbonize the UK economy but isn’t panacea, MPs say and Hydrogen heating trial treats us like guinea pigs – residents – BBC News

Ultimately, though, is this just successful greenwashing from the gas industry?

Creator: Raimond Spekking 

Is the UK’s hydrogen strategy propping up the gas industry? | Sam Alston

See also: Is bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (Beccs) just ‘a castle built on sand’? – Vision Group for Sidmouth