MPs call for government support on hydrogen and CCS

Article by Adam Duckett

MP Anna Turley: hydrogen-conversion projects have the potential to significantly decrease carbon emissions

MEMBERS of Parliament speaking at an event to showcase clean energy have noted that in the wake of the climate protests held across London and the UK’s failed nuclear ambitions, the Government must provide industry with certainty on CCS and hydrogen.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hydrogen, chaired by Redcar MP Anna Turley hosted a showcase event in London yesterday evening for parliamentarians to come and meet with industry and learn about the promise of the hydrogen economy.

Claire Perry, Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, had been expected to speak at the event but was instead answering questions in Parliament about the Extinction Rebellion protests that have seen more than 1,000 people arrested across the capital as they demand decisive action on climate change.

“Today’s showcase is especially timely at the moment particularly given the climate change protest that we’ve seen around the capital in the last few days,” Turley said.

“We know that large scale hydrogen-conversion projects have the potential to significantly decrease carbon emissions and to be a key driver for clean growth, and the potential to position the UK as a global leader in these new forms of technology.”

Collaborate and listen

Turley’s Redcar constituency is home to major chemicals operations, with industry in the area producing around 50% of the UK’s hydrogen. Sponsors of the APPG, including Cadent and Northern Gas Networks, are collaborating across a range of projects, including HyDeploy, H21 and HyNet, aimed at demonstrating that hydrogen can help decarbonise heating, industry and transport.

There is currently a positive mood about support for hydrogen, with industry representatives at a meeting on HyDeploy held last month pointing to the commitment made in this year’s Spring Statement that the Government will publish proposals requiring an increased proportion of “green gas in the grid, advancing decarbonisation of our mains gas supply”.

CCS will be crucial to making the production of hydrogen ‘green’, as reforming natural gas produces carbon dioxide that will need to be captured and stored.    

Rachel Reeves, the MP who chairs the select committee overseeing the work of the Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), said: “[W]e’re now not on target to meet our fourth and fifth carbon budget. And for those reasons, it is incredibly important that hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and other sources of new energy supply can come forward and help us meet those targets”.

Reeves’ committee has been taking evidence on CCS, including a session hosted in Teesside listening to the clusters who submitted applications to host the UK’s £1bn (US$1.29bn) CCS demonstration project which was cancelled in 2015. The committee is set to publish a report on the findings tomorrow.

Reeves said: “I don’t think I’m giving anything away when I tell you the evidence that we heard loud and clear from people is that there have been enough false starts on carbon capture and storage; that the industry and workers in it want greater certainty about the future, and they want the Government to get on with and set out its plans for demonstrating at scale that we can – and we know that we can  – use carbon capture and storage to meet some of the challenges that we face.”

Nuclear fallout

She went on to say: “We know now that the nuclear capacity that the Government committed to is not going to be coming onstream any time soon so that means there is an even greater need to find alternative sources of energy. We know we can’t meet our fourth and fifth carbon budgets, let alone the net zero targets without hydrogen. So, I hope like all the witnesses to our select committee that Government do get on with it and provide the certainty that industry needs to allow creation of jobs across our country”.

Turley closed out the presentations by assuring representatives from across industry gathered at the event that the APPG will make sure the messages from the event “are taken firmly” to Perry and the Government, and that the group will continue to lobby for a transition towards a hydrogen economy.

The Chemical Engineer is publishing a series of articles from experts discussing the challenges and opportunities of the hydrogen economy. It has been developed in partnership with IChemE's Clean Energy Special Interest Group. For more entries visit the series hub.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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