This morning the headline from COP is about those countries who will phase out coal energy generation and probably more importantly, those that have not yet committed. It is difficult to view COP as an overall success without firm commitments on coal, although there is perhaps the fall back of coal with carbon capture.
On a more positive note, there seems to be broad agreement from all that hydrogen is going to play a big role in decarbonisation of energy. The attached is a useful 2 minute guide from the BBC on hydrogen. The jury is still out on what the best and most effective use of hydrogen will be in the coming decades. Is it to displace industrial gas needs, transport fuels, storage or domestic heat for example, but it seems every country realises that hydrogen is on the march. With this realisation has come an eagerness to announce support and funding from countries and continents across the globe with them all looking to capture the predicted economic gains from a hydrogen economy. The race is on.
A long term view of the opportunity and a long term strategy is welcome from any state, but rather like every pledge and message coming out of COP, we need confidence as to what is actually going to happen in the next 5 years. If any country wants to capture the economic benefits from hydrogen this next few years will be crucial in terms of incentives, policy and legislative changes, allowing projects to be deployed at pace and in a volume which leads to price reduction (as we saw with offshore wind) and a confidence in the demand side that hydrogen is here to stay.
Where is the UK in all of this. Lots of words eg the Hydrogen Strategy (and whilst that might sound flippant, actually consistent support and words are often very helpful in driving confidence in developers and funders) and a certain level of funding coupled with a contract for difference price support proposal for produced hydrogen. This funding and price support has got to work to stimulate a plethora of projects in the coming years. We cannot assume that because a CfD type structure has worked for offshore wind it will naturally suit different forms of hydrogen production being put to lots of different uses. As to the most effective use for hydrogen, in the early days let's concentrate on the easy wins. Intuitively, ambitions to replace every household boiler with a hydrogen one if probably not on the "easy" list. There are however, many on-site/ near-site industrial projects already coming forward and we are delighted to be playing our role in bringing them to fruition.
What is hydrogen energy and why is it important?