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Sun, 29 November 2020

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It’s high time we bring on the hydrogen revolution

It’s high time we bring on the hydrogen revolution
4 min read

The lightest of all known elements could do much of the heavy lifting in decarbonising Britain. We need a hydrogen strategy if we’re to reach net-zero

In order to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and support the UK’s economic recovery we must ensure that hydrogen plays a prominent role in future policymaking. In my role as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hydrogen, I am working closely with the government and industry leaders across the sector to ensure that the UK’s hydrogen potential is fully realised.   

A large-scale conversion to hydrogen has the potential to expand the UK’s position as a global leader in hydrogen technology and drastically cut carbon emissions in our hard-to-abate sectors like transport and heating. Not only will it create and sustain many thousands of skilled jobs in all parts of the country, but it can unlock innovation in other sectors and kickstart a green industrial revolution.

The UK government was the first world leader to establish a 2050 net-zero carbon target, but our ambitions will be unachievable the longer we wait to commit to delivering a hydrogen economy. Our recent commitment to supporting hydrogen initiatives is not only welcome, it is necessary, and we need to see much more.

 Investing in this transition will create jobs, reduce emissions and strengthen our energy security

As a former petrochemical industry worker, I know the many benefits that growing the hydrogen sector will bring to our local communities. A blunt move to zero carbon will be devasting for communities like mine, and lead to huge unemployment. Whereas investing in this transition will create new high-skilled jobs while reducing our emissions and strengthening our energy security.

The APPG recently conducted an inquiry into the UK hydrogen sector, exploring how it can help support the UK’s economic recovery. In addition to the fantastic support it secured from across government, Parliament and industry, the biggest takeaway for me was the range of businesses that are ready to invest in a UK hydrogen economy.

The creation of a government hydrogen strategy is the first and most important step into realising this incredible opportunity. And it could not be more timely, as we face the most significant challenge in generations as we look to recover from a global pandemic.

We are also set to host COP26 in November 2021, where the world will be looking to the UK to set a clear pathway towards reaching our net-zero targets and demonstrate our leadership in clean energy.  

The creation of a cross-departmental hydrogen strategy will support the UK economy. Building on the government’s initial plans, we need to see a strategy that is developed with industry and has proper collaboration between key departments. Any strategy must be rooted in providing an opportunity to hydrogen producers, end-users, and the associated supply chain and research community to develop our capability.

If all these points are captured, I am confident a large-scale conversion to hydrogen will be realised. This will solidify the UK’s position as a global leader and ensure we are not left behind in the hydrogen innovation race. It will create and sustain many thousands of high-quality skilled jobs in all parts of the country. It will unlock innovation in other sectors such as domestic appliances, heavy industry and transport.

These benefits have the potential to create and sustain a green economy and aid the government’s plans to level-up every part of the UK. A hydrogen strategy will deliver economic recovery and growth to places across the UK from Redcar and Fife to Ballymena and Cardiff.

I, like many people in Parliament, know the key role hydrogen can and will play in shaping our future economy and our efforts to tackle climate change. The only outstanding question is: when will this hydrogen revolution begin?

 

Jacob Young is the Conservative MP for Redcar.

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