Is hydrogen the nuclear option?

9th Sep 2019


NetZero changed everything. That’s not an exaggeration, nor an overly dramatic statement. The pace within Whitehall changed; large corporates suddenly realised that this is for real and the regulator Ofgem has also made clear to the sector preparing their business plans that NetZero needs to be considered.

So the question for the energy sector is how does it get to NetZero and is this any different to the 80 per cent carbon reduction previously targeted? Last week I mentioned the concerns from the Government’s environment advisor about the public awareness of what NetZero means. Hydrogen certainly seems to be the favoured fuel by the CCC (with hybrids or without).

So is hydrogen the nuclear option?

I’m teasing amount the meaning of that sentence because last week I read about an EDF Energy project which will enable hydrogen to be produced, via electrolysis, from nuclear power. H2H (Hydrogen to Heysham) is another project that puts the gas front and centre. Whether it is produced via electrolysis from renewables; from nuclear or from steam-methane reformation, the end product is a low carbon gas that can deliver the energy required to meet peak-heat demand in our homes and for our industry.

I’m told of the growing interest in hydrogen across northern Europe, following the UK lead. It is obvious (to me anyway) that those countries with the ability to supply large volumes of hydrogen, via renewables such as solar, will soon start to develop their capacity to deliver the gas to Europe. A global market in hydrogen has the potential to be huge, and once it becomes established or starts to show maturity, then bodies such as the CCC will be able to speak out more glowingly about the fuel. At the moment they temper their stance because of concerns over supply in the volumes needed.

So yes, hydrogen does look like it will be the nuclear option, and in more ways, than we perhaps first thought.

 Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO