Lots of good things start with the letter H; holidays, hot chocolate, Hathway (OK, I know I’m pushing it) and Hydrogen.
You’re going to see and hear a lot more written about this lightest, yet most abundant element; colourless, odourless, non-toxic, yet highly combustible and does not produce CO2. The UK Government released the UK Hydrogen Strategy in August 2021. This set out a holistic approach to drive progress in the 2020s to deliver the governments ambition to establish 5GW production by 2030 as an integral part of the UK’s transition to Net Zero.
I accept that the scale, enormity, and urgency for the transition to hydrogen is no small undertaking. It will take a mutli-disciplinary and carefully coordinated approach to make the shift to a hydrogen economy. It’s a monumental task, but an achievable one.
It’s reminiscent of the introduction of contaminated land regulations and Part 2A in 2000. Environmentalists came together with civil engineers, geologists, surveyors, chemists, toxicologists, financial institutions, and many more disciplines. All worked together to fulfil the government’s objective to simplify the development of land impacted by contamination, and ultimately towards a target for 60% of new developments happening on brownfield land. The journey wasn’t smooth, but the goal was achieved, lessons were learned, and real benefits seen. Following this comes the challenge of perception and acceptance, of winning hearts and minds.
Plain speech, clear and precise data, and robust examples of the success and benefits of transitioning from carbon-laden gases to hydrogen will be essential to getting buy-in from the public. A similar process took place in the 1960s and 70s with the move from ‘town gas’ to natural gas. The potential of the internet and social media to serve as a catalyst for either complexity or convergence on the subject will remain to be seen, but with advances in technology and the undeniable demands of a climate crisis, the path to hydrogen should hopefully be smoother than previously experienced.
It won’t be easy. Notwithstanding the technical challenges of brown, blue and green hydrogen, there are issues with transport and storage, not to mention getting it into people’s homes. But there are investment, research and trials already underway, which show the potential of and excitement around hydrogen. The HyDeploy Winlaton project has been underway since August, where 668 homes, a church, primary school, and several small businesses comprise the first community ever to receive a hydrogen blend via a public network. In Orkney the excess renewable electricity generated by wave and tidal resources is being used to create hydrogen through electrolysis. It’s therefore timely and pertinent that one of the first winners of the Earthshot Prize this year for ‘Fix our Climate’ was an AEM Electrolyser. Perhaps even more exciting is the HySpirits II project investigating the feasibility of green hydrogen heating as a clean fuel solution for decarbonising the distilling process. I didn’t think gin could taste any better!
The point being made is that we’ve been here before, at the start of a monumental shift. With cross sector support, investment and conviction, it’s possible to make the hydrogen economy a reality. We need to scale up and work together, as we have in the past. As an individual and part of a thought-leading organisation, I remain poised, positive, and ready to help the industry make hydrogen a reality and place the UK at the forefront of meeting this challenge.
At GGS we are ready to support industry.
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Landfill gas consists of approximately 50% methane, so methane monitoring is essential to best practice waste management.