Written Evidence Submitted by Hydrogen Strategy Now Campaign
The cross-industry Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign is delighted to provide this submission to the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the role of hydrogen in achieving Net Zero.
The Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign was launched in June 2020 and is made up of fifty-four major businesses and trade bodies. A full list of campaign partners is set out at the end of this submission.
Collectively, Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign partners:
In summary, this submission sets out the Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign’s views that:
The global hydrogen race is now on. For example, Germany is investing €9bn and France is investing €7bn to stimulate their domestic hydrogen markets. Overall, about 20 countries – who collectively represent approximately 70% of global GDP – have announced a hydrogen strategy or roadmap as a key pillar of their decarbonisation ambitions. We cannot afford to delay and risk our position as a world-leader in this future economy that is set to be worth $2.5tr and create 30m jobs by 2050.
We were delighted to see the Government recently confirm its intention to bring forward a UK hydrogen strategy in 2021. We welcome the inclusion of hydrogen as point two of the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, as a key element of the Energy White Paper, and its inclusion in the most recent Spending Review. This builds on the Prime Minister’s statement in July that his Government will “invest massively in hydrogen”.
The UK has the ability to out-manoeuvrer and outwit the international competition. By taking the following four steps, we can utilise our natural resource and technological know-how, spend taxpayer money more efficiently than our other competitors, and stimulate much greater private investment, economic growth, and carbon reductions.
In addition to the above policy recommendations, we encourage the Committee to consider the following two issues.
Over sixty parliamentarians from both Houses and from all parties are supporting the Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign.
When expressing her support for the campaign, Baroness Brown, vice-chair of the influential Climate Change Committee said:
"The UK missed the boat on wind technology and missed the boat on batteries. We can't afford to miss the boat on hydrogen.
"I strongly agree that the UK urgently needs a hydrogen strategy, as there are too many small, piecemeal funds and projects. We need some serious private and public funding, and a coordinated effort between government and industry, to kickstart and grow a green-job-creating hydrogen economy across the country".
Support from Trade Unions
On Wednesday 24 June 2020, the Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign secured the support of four of the UK’s largest trade unions – Unison, GMB, Prospect, and Unite. The General Secretaries of all four of these trade unions signed an open letter to the Chancellor, which is copied in full below:
Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,
As the UK's biggest energy unions, we have joined together to encourage you to take positive and bold steps in enabling the UK to set an ambitious strategy for hydrogen across the country.
We represent some 200,000 workers in the energy sector and we fully support the need to become decarbonised in a manner that takes significant steps towards our Net Zero targets, whilst at the same time sustaining and creating high quality jobs, and supporting economic growth in all parts of the country.
We believe hydrogen is key to meeting these objectives. It will support the decarbonisation of heat and the generation of clean power. It is also critical not only because it will enable energy to decarbonise, but also because it will enable transport and heavy industry to do so too, with the multiple benefits this will bring.
We note that a cross-industry campaign has been established by a group of businesses and trade bodies urging you to announce at next month's fiscal event a commitment to establishing a UK-wide hydrogen strategy. We agree with this recommendation, and urge the Government to move fast on developing a UK-wide hydrogen strategy.
We can look across the world and see other nations bringing forward multi-billion pound, job-creating hydrogen strategies. The UK cannot afford to risk being left behind and failure would result in the UK not meeting its Net Zero obligation and a loss of high skilled and quality jobs.
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how the UK's hydrogen industry can create and sustain jobs among the sectors we represent.
General Secretary of UNISON
Acting General Secretary of GMB
General Secretary of Prospect
General Secretary of Unite
Support from academics
On Thursday 2 July 2020, the Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign published a letter to the Chancellor signed by forty world-leading academics supporting a UK-wide hydrogen strategy. The letter is copied in full below:
Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,
We are writing as world-leading academics in the fields of low-carbon energy, renewables, the environment, transport, and climate change, to express our support for a UK-wide hydrogen strategy. Such a strategy could further reinforce the UK’s standing, reputation and the export potential of our knowledge in this field.
The economic recovery from the Covid crisis must be green, clean, and create jobs. Hydrogen can play a key role in this recovery. In the longer term, if the government is going to achieve its legally required target of reaching Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, hydrogen will be needed to get there.
The UK has a huge number of natural advantages when it comes to hydrogen energy – we have a surplus supply of renewable wind energy, we have a robust energy infrastructure, and we have a highly-skilled manufacturing base well-suited to a cutting-edge new technology like hydrogen.
The benefits of having a strong hydrogen economy are clear – it will drastically reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and create new, green jobs across the country. It can help usher in a new era of zero-carbon transport, through hydrogen buses, trains, lorries and even ships and aeroplanes, as well as zero-carbon heating. It will also provide a huge boost to manufacturing in this country and give the UK the opportunity to lead the world in an exciting renewable and low-carbon technology.
Of course, the Net Zero target cannot be met through hydrogen alone. It will need a complementary approach across all forms of renewable energy and zero-carbon areas. But introducing a UK-wide hydrogen strategy would be a good place to start.
Many other countries have already begun this work. Germany, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Canada, and China have all introduced their own hydrogen strategies. The European Commission is also creating an EU hydrogen strategy, including plans for multi-billion-euro investment in hydrogen projects. Unless the government acts now, the UK risks being left behind.
We fully support the objectives of the Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign, which has brought together leading organisations to jointly call for the introduction of a UK-wide hydrogen strategy. We hope the government takes note, and acts now, before it is too late.
Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign partners
The Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign is made up of fifty major businesses and trade bodies: