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The Scottish Government’s approach to hydrogen

  • United Kingdom
  • Energy and infrastructure - Hydrogen

22-03-2021

Ahead of Glasgow hosting COP26 later this year, the Scottish Government published a Hydrogen Policy Statement in December 2020, which outlines just how much of a key role the production and use of hydrogen will play in achieving Scotland’s ambitious targets of, firstly, a 75% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2030, and, secondly, net zero by 2045.

Targets

The Hydrogen Policy Statement acknowledges that Scotland is well-placed to develop the hydrogen sector, thanks to its abundance of the natural resources necessary for green hydrogen production (including an estimated 25% of all the wind resource in Europe), and the knowledge and engineering expertise in its already well-established energy sector.

It lays out targets for hydrogen production, including the target of generating 5GW of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen by 2030. This target is ambitious: to put it into context, Germany, a much larger country and one which last year kickstarted its own (seemingly successful) hydrogen strategy, shares the same 5GW target ambition.

Its targets are not just green, but also acutely strategic and economic: the Hydrogen Policy Statement includes the aim of building up the sector sufficiently so that by 2045, Scotland will produce the lowest cost hydrogen in Europe.

Sector Growth

At this point in time hydrogen is still a fledgling industry in Scotland. So how does the Scottish Government propose to grow the sector and meet these targets?

This will become clearer later this year when the Scottish Government will publish its Hydrogen Action Plan, which will set out how its hydrogen policies will be implemented. It will be supported by funding to the tune of £100 million for research, innovation, development and demonstration of hydrogen production.

Currently, the Hydrogen Policy Statement suggests that regional or local production of hydrogen will play an important role in helping build the sector domestically. Scotland has recently seen an increase in the number of regional hydrogen projects, including:

  • Kirkwall Airport (which uses a hydrogen gas flow vanadium battery);
  • H100 Fife Projects (a flagship project using 100% hydrogen to heat 300 homes in Leven. It links up offshore wind power to heating homes and an electrolysis process will produce hydrogen. It will be scaled up in three phases, and will scale up to heating over 1000 houses and commercial properties and will create a hydrogen hub for transport); and
  • The Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub (including two publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations).

Future proposals include a hub on the Cromarty Firth (potentially operational by 2023), which would generate hydrogen by offshore and onshore windfarms. This would be supplied to local ports and distilleries, with the aim of moving towards greener industrial processes and transport in the region.

Once these small scale regional projects have been established successfully, it seems likely that the Hydrogen Action Plan will promote ‘sector-coupling’, whereby the hydrogen sector will work together with more traditional sectors such as transport, electricity, gas and technology. Similarly, it is expected that the hydrogen sector will initially feed into and support the existing energy sector before Scotland ultimately moves into large scale green hydrogen production. 

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For more information, visit our Hydrogen Hub to keep up-to-date with the latest legal developments, including a collection of policy updates from various jurisdictions including Russia, Finland and the USA.

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