New committee launched to help UK government avoid hydrogen policy pitfalls

Former Climate Change Committee (CCC) Deputy Chair Baroness Brown is among members of a new ‘Hydrogen Policy Commission’, which will advise policy makers as climate sectors green and blue hydrogen are growing in the UK.

The Hydrogen Strategy was published last August and further details are expected this year

Senior representatives from the Conservative Party, Labor and Liberal Democrats will join Baroness Brown as members of the Commission, along with hydrogen experts from the UK private sector and senior academics.

The Commission will, as a first step, carry out an assessment of the UK government’s hydrogen strategy, with a report due to be published later this year. It has planned an eight-month engagement program with representatives from industry and academia, as well as senior national and local government officials

The hydrogen strategy was published last August and builds on the commitment made in the ten point plan for the UK to host 5GW of ‘low carbon’ hydrogen generating capacity. by 2030.

In a statement, the Commission expressed concern that the strategy is not currently ambitious enough – or clear enough on support to achieve long-term goals – to attract private investment. Earlier this month, the trade body Energy Networks Association (ENA) recommended that the government target 10GW of low-carbon hydrogen generation by 2030 and provide additional funding to meet this target.

Other concerns have been raised about the strategy, including its focus on blue hydrogen, made using natural gas co-located with carbon capture technology; and whether the government is prioritizing the right hydrogen end-use sectors to maximize cost and carbon savings.

The Commission will assess these concerns and identify a path for the UK government to become a world leader in the export of hydrogen and related technologies. Baroness Brown said the UK now risks ‘repeating the same mistakes’ made with wind turbines and battery technologies, which have given countries like China a head start in the global technology race.

“Hydrogen is a real opportunity for the UK, with a key role to play in the resilient zero-carbon energy system we need to meet the challenges of climate change and global politics,” Baroness Brown said. . “The UK has missed the mark on batteries and wind technology, we can’t afford to miss the mark on hydrogen.”

Joining Baroness Brown as Commissioners are Crossbench Peer Baroness Meacher; Lord Hannan, adviser to the UK Board of Trade; Lord McNicol, former General Secretary of the Labor Party; Lord Oats, former Chief of Staff to the Deputy Prime Minister; Polly Billington, Managing Director of UK100; Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Metropolitan Liverpool; Ben Houchen, Mayor of the Tees Valley Combined Authority; GMB Union Acting Regional Secretary for the North, Hazel Nolan; UNISON Union National Energy Manager Matt Lay; Imperial College London Professor of Process Systems Engineering, Professor Nilay Shah, and Chairman of the Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Committee of the Local Government Association, Cllr David Fox.

The UK government is expected to provide an update on the hydrogen strategy by the end of the year. However, last year, progress on the green policy was largely plagued by a series of delays.

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Sarah Georges

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