Green hydrogen lobby trying to discourage the UK government from blue hydrogen

Seven organisations have written an official letter to Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the UK.

In their letter they made the case for why the UK government should support green hydrogen rather than blue hydrogen.

Letter signatories:

  • E3G
  • WWF
  • Greenpeace UK
  • Friends of the Earth
  • MCS Foundation
  • Possible
  • Architects Climate Action Network

Main excerpt of the letter:

„Dear Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP

Re: A green hydrogen approach for jobs, industry, and international leadership

We are writing to encourage the UK to show international leadership using the forthcoming Hydrogen Strategy to advance a vision for a thriving green and globally competitive UK economy. The UK hydrogen strategy can make a difference by focusing on developing a value chain for renewable hydrogen which has the largest cost and emissions reduction potential and that builds on UK strengths, such as its vast offshore wind resources.

Zero emissions, ‘green’ hydrogen produced from renewable energy is likely to remain a premium commodity over the coming decades. It should therefore be deployed where it adds the greatest value for climate, jobs, and a strong economic recovery. Used wisely, green hydrogen can support the decarbonisation of industrial hubs across the UK, helping tackle some of the greatest climate challenges for sectors where currently there are no readily available pathways to zero emissions.

‘Blue’ fossil-based hydrogen is not zero emissions and risks a lock-in of high carbon infrastructure and jobs. Instead, the UK’s competitive advantage in future hydrogen production lies with producing this fuel by electrolysis by  tapping into the country’s vast offshore wind potential – in parallel to scaling electrification, efficiency, and circular economy. Through focusing on hydrogen production in industrial hubs located strategically to benefit from North Seas offshore wind, the Government can support the ‘levelling up’ agenda and a just transition for high-carbon industries such as steel.

Major companies for whom action on climate change is a near-existential threat are seeking to make blue hydrogen a fuel of choice. Government needs to send a strong signal that the UK’s competitive future lies on green hydrogen, because it is preferred internationally. We strongly encourage the Government to focus public support and priorities on green hydrogen, which is the most sustainable solution in the long run; avoiding the risks associated with a ‘twin track’ approach of both green and blue. Currently, the public funding appears to be primarily supporting the development of blue hydrogen – with a recent parliamentary question revealing that around 75% of the £171 million for hydrogen projects in the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy is allocated for blue hydrogen projects.

A strategic hydrogen vision must be mission based and help distinguish where hydrogen does and does not present the optimal pathway for decarbonisation. For instance, where alternative solutions are already readily available for roll-out, are more efficient and cost-effective, existing strategies for efficiency and electrification should not be delayed. A clear example is hydrogen for heating. Hydrogen for heating is likely to come at a higher cost, with research in Europe showing that hydrogen-only technologies could cost twice as much as heat pumps in 2050. Blue hydrogen is also not net-zero compatible and cannot be used at scale across the UK without undermining carbon budgets and the UK’s net-zero target. For green hydrogen, it is estimated to require around 30 times more offshore wind farm capacity than currently available to produce enough hydrogen to replace all gas boilers, as well as adding costs for consumers – creating additional challenges for addressing fuel poverty.

We therefore urge the Government to avoid a nationwide roll-out of hydrogen-ready boilers, or ‘blending’ of fossil gas and hydrogen into national networks. We are concerned that these ideas are being promoted by the fossil fuel industry to lock the UK into fossil fuel infrastructure and fossil fuel supply and that there is an attempt underway to capture the UK Government behind a fossil based hydrogen future, using blending and hydrogen ready boilers as a Trojan Horse. This would not be in the best interests of the UK.„

Read the letter in full here: LETTER

Source: E3G