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by Duncan Clark
01 March 2022
Associate Feature: The vital role of renewable hydrogen innovation in industrial decarbonisation

Associate Feature: The vital role of renewable hydrogen innovation in industrial decarbonisation

Having recently closed out a year of climate crisis summits, talks and debates, two words stick in my mind: innovation and collaboration. Climate change is a defining challenge of our time, as the world needs to reduce global carbon emissions by 50% towards 2030 to stay within a 1.5°C increase in global warming. To achieve this, we will need to adopt a range of complementary new technologies to truly transform the way we produce and manage power, one of those being renewable hydrogen. 

Offshore winds’s next major contribution to this goal is through renewable hydrogen innovations, enabling large scale industrial decarbonisation. The Scottish Government’s ambition to generate 5GW of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen by 2030 is a very positive signal with research suggesting that the industry could be worth up to £25 billion a year to the Scottish economy by 2045.

The good news is that there will be exciting opportunities to realise this potential almost immediately through the ScotWind leasing round. The Covid-19 pandemic has given us an opportunity to refocus and, if we make the right choices now, potentially accelerate our progress to a more sustainable, low-carbon future. For example, our partnership with Edinburgh Airport aims to use renewable hydrogen-fuels from offshore wind farms to reach their 2040 net zero ambition.  
We will greatly benefit from lessons learned in the offshore wind sector over the last decade when developing green hydrogen. Phase two of our work with ITM Power, Phillips 66 Limited and Element Energy with Gigastack has just concluded. In our latest report on the project, we explore the current policy and regulatory landscape, identify barriers to developing large scale renewable hydrogen and map solutions to investable strategies. Projects like Gigastack provide an important step and showcase what is achievable with the right support framework in place. 

As with renewable electricity, the desired shift to renewable hydrogen needs to be supported through the right regulatory framework, facilitating demand creation whilst the technology develops and scales up, bringing costs down to – or below – the costs for fossil-fuel based hydrogen. The UK has created an effective and stable regulatory regime for offshore wind. Now the same is needed for renewable hydrogen too. It has given developers, supply chain companies and the financial sector the confidence to invest, supported and encouraged innovation, whilst also providing the competitive tension required to drive down prices at an unprecedented rate. But this is just the beginning. 

Each project we are engaged with not only provides power to millions of homes, but also limits the negative consequences of climate change and the threat it poses to the environment. There is still further work to be done to ensure that renewables alone can power this revolution, but with continued support from government and businesses, we can create a world that runs entirely on green energy, thereby addressing the sustainability demands of the future and protecting our planet.

This article is sponsored by Ørsted.

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