Taskforce
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Energy giants BP and Shell are among the inaugural ten companies that have formed a ‘Hydrogen Taskforce’ in the UK.

Launched yesterday, the taskforce is a lobby group that wants to work with the government to fast-track innovation and investment in hydrogen energy projects.

The UK is already host to several innovative hydrogen projects, including a ground-breaking £7m pilot to inject hydrogen into a gas network to heat homes.

With the UK due to host COP26 in November, there is a need for the government to act on major energy innovation opportunities, and it recently announced new funding for hydrogen via the Hydrogen Supply Programme and Industrial Fuel Switching Competition.

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In a 34-page report unveiled yesterday, the Hydrogen Taskforce said that “hydrogen is essential to the UK meeting its net zero emissions target. We must act now to scale hydrogen solutions and achieve cost effective deep decarbonisation.”

“If the UK is going to meet net zero and capitalise on the economic growth opportunities presented by domestic and global markets for hydrogen solutions and expertise, it is critical that the 2020s deliver a step change in hydrogen activity, building on the unique strengths and expertise developed during early stage technology development.”

The Hydrogen Taskforce also comprises Arup, Baxi, BOC, BNP Paribas, Cadent, DBD, ITM Power and Storengy and together they want to “offer a shared view of the opportunity and a collective position on the next steps that must be taken to ensure that the UK capitalises on this opportunity”.

The report concludes that “there are questions to be answered and challenges that must be overcome as hydrogen technologies develop, yet by focusing on what can be done today, the benefits of hydrogen can be immediately realised whilst industry expertise and knowledge is built.”

The taskforce report has five key policy recommendations that it believes will will go a long way to seeing hydrogen solutions deployed at scale on a commercial basis. The five are:

  • Development of a cross-departmental Hydrogen Strategy within UK government;
  • Commitment by government of £1billion over the next Spending Review period to hydrogen production, storage and distribution projects;
  • Development of financial support for the production of hydrogen for blending into the gas grid, industrial use, power generation and transport;
  • Amendment of Gas Safety Management Regulations (GSMR) to enable hydrogen blending into the UK Gas Grid and take the next steps towards 100 per cent hydrogen heating through supporting public trials and mandating hydrogen-ready boilers by 2025;
  • Collaboration to establish 100 hydrogen refuelling stations (HRS) by 2025 to support the roll-out of hydrogen transport.

Many believe that a key opportunity to utilise hydrogen is in domestic heating. Jeff House of Baxi Heating said: “Baxi and others in the heating industry are preparing to deliver clean heating and play our part in tackling climate change. We now call on the government to match our commitment with a clear message that hydrogen is one of the key solutions to deliver Net Zero by committing £1bn towards readying the UK for hydrogen in the upcoming Spending Review.

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“From the consumer’s perspective, hydrogen will offer everything they value from their current heating solution, namely instantaneous heat and hot water delivered by the existing gas network. Hydrogen offers a straightforward and practical solution for the consumer and we urge government to prioritise it in its future plans.”

“I would like to see public trials in occupied buildings of 100 per cent hydrogen heating both in the domestic and commercial settings. Given the current UK domestic gas boiler market is around 1.6m units per year, a mandate that all boiler installations from 2025 are hydrogen-ready would mean that a significant proportion of the existing housing stock is prepared for a future changeover.”

He added that “the installation of ‘hydrogen ready’ boilers could begin long before 100 per cent hydrogen is available within a locality by utilising the existing natural gas network. Once hydrogen is available, the hydrogen ready boilers can be simply and easily converted to hydrogen without the need for a new heating system.’’