commercial gas pipework - hydrogen gas

 £400m To Be Invested In New Green Hydrogen Gas Projects

The government has announced in a press release that it will be boosting the production of green energy through the backing of 11 commercial hydrogen projects across the UK. The schemes will take place over the next three years, investing up to £400m in the green energy sector in the UK and creating over 700 new jobs.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has confirmed that the suppliers of the hydrogen gas will receive a guaranteed price from the government, in line with the commitment to boost clean energy usage and help meet net zero emissions targets. This will ensure that producers will see a return on their investment. 

All 11 of the projects will lead to the production of green hydrogen, as opposed to blue hydrogen. This is an important distinction, because blue hydrogen is produced from fossil fuel sources, whereas green hydrogen is produced from renewable energy sources, typically through a process called electrolysis. 

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: “Hydrogen presents a massive economic opportunity for the UK, unlocking over 12,000 jobs and up to £11 billion of investment by 2030. [The] announcement represents the largest number of commercial scale green hydrogen production projects announced at once anywhere in Europe.”

She added: “These 11 major new hydrogen projects across the UK will create over 700 jobs and deliver new opportunities from Plymouth in England to Cromarty in Scotland.”

The new projects are expected to deliver 125MW of new hydrogen for businesses. This is in line with the government’s wider ambitions to create up to 10GW of low carbon energy production capacity by 2030. Further schemes to boost hydrogen production of both green and blue varieties are expected to be announced during the next two years.

Currently, natural gas is distributed in over 99% of the UK’s gas network, and accounts for almost 85% of the fuel used for domestic cooking and heating purposes. However, as it is a fossil fuel, it produces harmful greenhouse gas emissions when it is burned. It would be impossible to meet net zero targets with the current rate of consumption.

Therefore it is critical to find greener alternatives to pure fossil fuels if we are to mitigate against the damaging effects of climate change and ensure the safe future of the planet. Hydrogen gas is considered one of the best and most effective sources of renewable cleaner energy.

However, one of the biggest challenges facing the energy industry is how to scale up the production of hydrogen quickly enough to meet future demands for cleaner and renewable energy. Costs are currently extremely high and the necessary infrastructure is not yet in place. 

It is hoped that hydrogen gas will be able to be transported through the existing commercial gas pipework, and currently trials of hydrogen blends are underway to investigate the possibility further. With some upgrades to the current national transmission system, it is predicted that 20% hydrogen blends could be delivered by 2027.

However, the government emphasis will remain on producing enough green hydrogen gas to help achieve net zero emissions targets. The recent announcement will help to bring the UK a few steps closer to achieving this goal. 

Details of the projects include a paper mill business in Port Talbot, South Wales, which will replace 50% of their current gas boiler consumption with hydrogen, and a Scottish distillery who will run a boiler on 100% hydrogen. Furthermore, PD Ports in Teesside will replace diesel with hydrogen in their vehicle fleet by 2026. 

Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan said: “[The] funding commitment represents a monumental step forward in helping producers to deliver a fuel of the future today, backing businesses to go greener.”

He added: “This will be essential to achieving our net zero targets, and will benefit people across the UK with the job and investment opportunities that this funding will bring. And we’re not stopping there with a new, second round of funding now available for producers to apply for, so they can develop the next round of projects and build on this success.”

It is hoped that as demand for green hydrogen increases and production methods are scaled up, the cost will be reduced and it will be available for an affordable price for UK consumers.

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