The Scottish government will publish a hydrogen action plan next year, backed up by £100 million of investment over the next five years.
The government hopes to develop 5GW of renewable, low-carbon hydrogen capacity by 2030—enough to heat the equivalent of 1.8 million homes—and 25GW by 2045, Scotland’s target date for net zero.
Clean hydrogen gas, produced through electrolysis, has been hailed as a green alternative to natural gas, hypothetically delivered through the same infrastructure and used to heat homes. Renewable electricity generators, including wind, wave and tidal installations, can be used to power this electrolysis, making hydrogen green from generation to use.
With a quarter of Europe’s wind resources, high renewables capacity and islands and ports, Scotland is uniquely positioned to create and benefit from this green gas.
Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Scotland is one of the best placed nations anywhere in the world to develop competitively priced hydrogen for our own economy’s needs and to generate a surplus in supply to export to other European nations with emerging demand, but insufficient supply to meet their own needs.”
25GW of electrolysis capacity will produce 126 terawatt-hours (TWh) of green hydrogen, with an estimated 32 TWh used within Scotland to reach net-zero and 94TWh for export.
“No one fuel or technology is, by itself, the solution to climate change, but hydrogen has the potential to be a very important part of a progressive, decarbonised energy system supporting our transition to net zero in transport, heating and industrial decarbonisation,” Wheelhouse added.
Scottish Renewables outlined the other benefits of green hydrogen production for Scotland, including the creation of 310,000 jobs and £25 billion of gross value added by 2025.
Helen Melone, senior policy manager at the trade body, said: “Scotland’s renewable energy industry, and in particular its offshore and onshore wind sectors, look forward to delivering green hydrogen as part of the just energy transition we must make to tackle the carbon emissions which cause climate change.”
Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association pointed to successful hydrogen projects in Aberdeen, Fife, Orkney and the Western Isles.
Chief executive Nigel Holmes said: “We welcome this Hydrogen Policy statement which underlines the opportunity for Scotland to be the leading hydrogen nation, and puts us on the right path to deliver net zero by 2045.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Power is launching a new business division dedicated to delivering green hydrogen. Earlier this year the Glasgow-based energy generator and supplier entered a strategic partnership with ITM Power and BOC to develop green hydrogen production facilities with clusters of refuelling stations across Scotland.
The partnership aims to bring hydrogen to the commercial market within the next two years, for primary use in heavy goods vehicles, in the fleets of local authorities and businesses.
Scottish Power’s new hydrogen division will continue this work and develop other partnerships to supply hydrogen to distilleries, the steel industry and users of petrochemicals and ammonia, to help them decarbonise their operations.
ScottishPower hydrogen director Barry Carruthers said: “We led the onshore wind revolution here in the UK over twenty years ago, we’ve been a significant innovator in offshore wind, helping to drive down the cost of the technology, and now we want to do the same for green hydrogen.
“As we move towards net zero, electrification will only take us about 80% – 90% of the way, what’s left is a number of sectors and industry that will require further support. Fortunately, we already have the technology to allow them to decarbonise using clean, green hydrogen.”
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