BEIS launches UK Hydrogen Strategy
The UK Government's Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published its “UK Hydrogen Strategy” detailing how the UK can scale up hydrogen production, transmission, storage, and utilization over the next 30 years. Alongside this Strategy, the Government is also publishing a number of consultations – seeking views on BEIS’s Hydrogen Business Model, the design of the new GBP240 million (≈ EUR 279.8 million) Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, and a UK Low Carbon Hydrogen Standard.
The UK Government has made clear that hydrogen will play a key role in the decarbonization of the UK’s gas sector, necessary to deliver Net Zero by 2050. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, released back in November 2020, identified the need to scale up low carbon hydrogen production in Point 2 – thus kickstarting BEIS’s policy planning for hydrogen.
According to the “UK Hydrogen Strategy“, released on August 17, 2021, some 5 GW installed capacity of hydrogen is targeted for 2030, producing enough gas to heat over 3 million homes per year.
Much of this capacity will be used to produce blue hydrogen whereby fossil natural gas is converted into hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2) via steam reformation, and where the latter is subsequently captured and stored. Despite this process using non-renewable gas, the blue hydrogen is carbon neutral and can be achieved at scale by the existing oil and gas industries.
According to the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), while the Strategy fails to go into much detail about the joint role of biomethane aka renewable natural gas (RNG) in the greening of the gas grid, it does acknowledge the potential for biomethane to be converted into biohydrogen via steam reformation.
Unlike blue hydrogen, biohydrogen is renewable and, depending on feedstocks used and carbon capture technology deployed, can offer carbon-negative energy – actively reversing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Hydrogen and biomethane are highly compatible. Each can be converted into the other, enhancing energy flexibility and network resilience. Furthermore, the ADBA points out that biomethane is ready to produce and use now – giving the UK time to scale up the hydrogen sector.