What is the Hydrogen Advisory Council?
The purpose of the Hydrogen Advisory Council is to inform the development of hydrogen as a “strategic decarbonised energy carrier” for the UK. Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source. This means it can deliver or store large amounts of energy. For example, it can be used in fuel cells to generate electricity, power or heat. It is a clean fuel as when used in a fuel cell, it produces only water, electricity and heat. It therefore has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Through the council, government and industry will work together with the aim of promoting concrete actions required to enable the supply of low carbon hydrogen at scale for use across the energy system. It will look to address near-term challenges and maximise opportunities for UK business.
The council is co-chaired by Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, and Sinead Lynch, UK Country Chair of Shell. Membership will be reviewed periodically, with information available on those who are currently members.
On 17 September 2020, Lord Oates (Liberal Democrat) will ask the Government “whether the Hydrogen Advisory Council will develop a fully-funded hydrogen strategy for the United Kingdom”.
What calls have there been for a hydrogen strategy?
Various organisations and individuals have called on the Government to publish a hydrogen strategy. For example, the Chair of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Philip Dunne, has written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, following an inquiry into technological innovation and climate change with a focus on hydrogen. He said:
It is clear from the evidence we have heard that to deliver the pace of development and investment needed in the sector a hydrogen strategy is urgently needed, particularly if we are to capitalise on the UK’s technology base and direct investment towards the most effective uses of hydrogen.
Other examples of calls for a strategy include:
- In June 2020, more than 40 companies—with a combined value of £100 billion—wrote to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, calling for him to lay the foundations for a UK-wide hydrogen strategy to power the country’s post-coronavirus recovery.
- Baroness Brown of Cambridge, vice-chair of the Committee on Climate Change, has agreed that a strategy is needed, arguing that currently there are “too many small, piecemeal funds and projects”.
- A recent report by the Centre for Policy Studies on transport decarbonisation included a recommendation that a UK-wide hydrogen strategy is produced before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which is due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021.
- Writing for Politics Home, Cadent—the UK’s largest gas distribution network—has also called for the Government to follow the European Union and other countries and publish a hydrogen strategy.
How has the Government responded to calls for a strategy?
In a recent written question, the Government was asked if it had plans to develop and publish a hydrogen strategy. Responding, Kwasi Kwarteng said:
The Government is committed to the development of hydrogen as a strategic decarbonised energy carrier for the UK. We are currently developing our strategic approach to hydrogen and its potential to deliver against our net zero goals.
In order to inform our approach, we are undertaking extensive stakeholder engagement, including through the launch of our Hydrogen Advisory Council enabling government to work in partnership with industry, as we develop new policy to help bring forward the technologies and supply chain we will need to grow the UK hydrogen economy. This includes developing business models to support the deployment of, and investment in, low carbon hydrogen production and a £100m Low Carbon Hydrogen Production Fund to stimulate capital investment.
- House of Commons, ‘Written Question: Hydrogen: Scotland’, 10 September 2020, 86216
- House of Commons, ‘Written Question: Hydrogen: Wales’, 10 September 2020, 85095
- House of Commons, ‘Written Question: Hydrogen’, 3 September 2020, 78803
- House of Lords, ‘Written Question: Hydrogen Advisory Council’, 3 August 2020, HL7187
- House of Commons, ‘Written Question: Hydrogen’, 22 July 2020, 73979
- House of Commons, ‘Written Question: Hydrogen’, 17 July 2020, 71899
- Tom Baxter, ‘Hydrogen isn’t the key to Britain’s green recovery—Here’s why’, The Conversation, 22 July 2020
- Julian Coman, ‘Can a hydrogen boom fuel a green recovery for Britain?’, Guardian, 19 July 2020
- Daniel Hannan, ‘Britain can lead the world at turning water into fuel’, Telegraph (£), 18 July 2020
- House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, ‘Technological innovations and climate change: Hydrogen’, accessed 10 September 2020
- European Commission, A Hydrogen Strategy for a Climate-Neutral Europe, 8 July 2020
- Eamonn Ives, Driving Change: How Hydrogen Can Fuel a Transport Revolution, Centre for Policy Studies, June 2020
- All Party Parliamentary Group on Hydrogen, How the UK’s Hydrogen Sector Can Help Support the UK’s Economic Recovery, 2020
Image of a hydrogen-powered bus in Seoul, South Korea, by Youngjin from Wikimedia.