Hydrogen Policy Developments in the UK

August 25th, 2021

Recent UK reports and Inquiries have examined the role of hydrogen in decarbonising energy systems.

House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry – the role of hydrogen in achieving Net Zero

While much attention of late has been drawn to the release of the UK hydrogen strategy in August 2021 (see below) this Inquiry by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has produced a ‘treasure trove’ of publicly available materials on the role of hydrogen in decarbonising energy systems (with special focus on the UK).

In response to earlier reports from the Committee on Climate Change (Reducing UK emissions: 2020 Progress Report to Parliament) and the Government’s release of the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, in December 2020, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee launched an inquiry into the role of hydrogen in achieving Net Zero.

Oral evidence sessions were held during 2021, beginning on 3 March 2021 with the final session held on 21 July 2021. A large (and distinguished) array of witnesses from industry, academia and government presented evidence on a range of energy system and hydrogen-related topics to the Committee. Full materials from the various sessions cover written and oral evidence transcripts as well as broadcasts of various sessions (which combined provide around 15 hours of viewing). The combined oral evidence transcripts is well over 150 pages.

The full range of materials from the Inquiry can be found though various channels:

  • Evidence session: 3 March 2021 is here (broadcast only)
  • Evidence session: 24 March 2021 is here (broadcast only)
  • Evidence session: 14 April 2021 is here (oral evidence transcript and ‘watch the meeting’)
  • Evidence sessions: 12 May 2021, 7 and 21 July 2021 is here (oral evidence transcript and ‘watch the meeting’ – latter embedded in the oral evidence transcript)

UK Hydrogen Strategy (and supporting documents)

On 17 August 2021, the UK Government published the UK Hydrogen Strategy along with several supporting documents:

  • Low Carbon Hydrogen Standards Consultation – seeks views on design options for a UK standard that defines ‘low carbon’ hydrogen, to underpin support for hydrogen production (consultation closes 25 October 2021).
  • Net Zero Hydrogen Fund Consultation – seeks views to inform the design of the (£240 million) Net Zero Hydrogen Fund (NZHF), which aims to support at-scale deployment of low carbon hydrogen production during the 2020s (consultation closes 25 October 2021).
  • Hydrogen Business Model Consultation – seeks views on the design for a low carbon hydrogen business model (consultation closes 25 October 2021).

The vision presented in the Strategy is that by 2030, the UK is a global leader on hydrogen, with 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity driving decarbonisation across the economy and clear plans in place for future scale up towards Carbon Budget 6 (CB6, covering the period 2033-37) and Net Zero.

The Strategy presents analysis prepared for CB6 that suggests 250-460TWh of hydrogen could be needed in 2050, equivalent to 20-35 per cent of UK final energy consumption.

The Strategy outlines a ‘twin track’ approach to supporting multiple technologies including ‘green’ electrolytic and ‘blue’ carbon capture-enabled hydrogen production, and commits to providing further detail in 2022 on the government’s production strategy.

The strategy highlights a range of Outcomes by 2030 across the hydrogen value chain and sets out a 2020s Roadmap based around archetypes of a hydrogen economy that could be expected in the early 2020s, mid-2020s and late 2020s, as well as by the mid-2030s for CB6. For each archetype, the Strategy sets out the supporting policies or activities that need to be in place to deliver the Roadmap.

Further detail on the 2030 Outcomes and the 2020s Roadmap are included in the UK policy description on HyResource. Other summaries of the strategy can be discovered through desktop research, an example being that included in the National Law Review.

All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hydrogen

In July 2021, the APPG on hydrogen launched its report on The role of hydrogen in powering industry. The report sets out 10 recommendations to support and accelerate the growth of the UK’s hydrogen sector. The APPG on hydrogen was established in July 2018. It is a cross-party group of MPs and Peers that focuses on raising awareness of, and building support for, large-scale hydrogen projects in support of the UK meeting decarbonisation targets. For transparency, the Group is supported by several industry organisations who help fund the running of the Group via its secretariat, Connect.

The Group’s website contains (non-verbatim) Minutes of various meetings held during 2021 covering the above report as well as subjects such as the hydrogen economy and jobs for the future, global export opportunities for the UK hydrogen industry, and the role of hydrogen in decarbonising heat in homes.


This Features article was prepared by Peter Grubnic: peter.grubnic@futurefuelscrc.com.