Energy Transition and the Rise of Hydrogen

Energy Transition and the Rise of Hydrogen


Meeting the net-zero target and rising energy demand is at the core of the UK’s commitment to resolving the climate emergency. Sir Ian Wood believes that an energy transition is crucial in delivering both.


Sir Ian Wood has published a statement concerning energy transition, expressing the intent of his company Opportunity North East to bring about the transformation. He believes that the region needs to create a better future, which includes offshore wind, oil and gas, carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), and hydrogen production.


In line with this, a recent survey revealed that most UK households are willing to try hydrogen as a domestic fuel to power homes. Consequently, advocates are pushing for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) to play a bigger role in the transport sector to usher the goal of a carbon-neutral economy.


Sir Ian Wood: right here and right now


Chairman of Opportunity North East Sir Ian Wood tackled the need for an integrated approach to energy transition, to face the challenge that is climate change. He cited that delivering net-zero emissions and meeting energy demands are top priorities that should go hand-in-hand.


He made an example of North East of Scotland, stating that it has over 50 years of expertise in energy, and cites the need to reimagine future use of the North Sea to make the ambitious target a reality.


Sir Ian Wood pointed out the crucial role of offshore wind in increasing the UK’s energy capacity up to seven-fold over the next decade. He cited Equinor’s Hywind’s floating offshore wind project and its promising potential to bring electricity generation to the North Sea. He believes that establishing an overseas network enables the delivery of clean energy to the grid, production of green hydrogen, and delivering power to facilities.

According to the Committee on Climate Change, CCUS capacity should reach up to 176 million tonnes by 2050. Still, it is zero right now and may pose a risk if the Government does not take emergency measures to hasten the implementation of projects to foster CCUS.


Sir Ian Wood mentioned his company’s partnership with the North East Carbon Capture Usage and Storage Alliance (NECCUS), building projects designed to help move things forward. However, he also reiterated that the industry and Government need to subsidise five or more projects to meet goals speedily.


Hydrogen on the rise


He further sent words of encouragement to the industry’s key players, to create a more integrated approach to energy transition and secure funding to contribute to the UK’s target of having a net-zero economy by 2050.


Talks about utilising hydrogen as domestic fuel have been abuzz in recent years, and a survey by Newcastle University researchers proved that UK households are on board with the idea.


This survey of the general public showed that 87% of respondents were amenable to using hydrogen in their homes, and 70% believe that it is environmentally beneficial.


However, cost remains a significant concern in regards to the use of hydrogen as domestic fuel.


The team behind this research are calling on the public to engage in more discussions regarding blended hydrogen, to foster awareness and acceptance of its potential use in the home.


Dr. Matthew Scott, Newcastle University research associate, stated that cost was the most common individual objection, but the majority of respondents weren’t against the idea of hydrogen-fueled homes.


Scott further added that the research revealed an interest in blending zero-carbon hydrogen into existing gas supplies.


Northern Gas Networks Chief Executive Mark Horsley said that hydrogen is a key part of the low-carbon energy future. It could be one of the answers to climate change, which is why public perception should be studied, to foster acceptance and enable the decarbonisation of heat.


FCEVs on road


In the transport sector, hydrogen-powered vehicles have already found significant support, starting with hydrogen-fueled taxis on London’s roads. There are also plans to convert trains to hydrogen fuel too.

Hyundai brought FCEVs to the commercial spotlight with the launch of the ix35 in 2013. While the technology for hydrogen-fueled transport is still lacking, KPMG and other analysts foresee hydrogen having a key role in this area in the future.


FCEV technology delivers zero tailpipe emissions with the benefit of faster refuelling time. A hydrogen station can deliver 300 miles of range in only five minutes, whereas a 150kW rapid charger will take an hour to do so.


Currently, the two FCEV’s available in the UK are the Hyundai Nexo and the Toyota Mirai.


The Government has already turned its attention to FCEVs as part of its effort to reduce transport emissions. The Office for Low Emission Vehicles authorised a £23-million budget to roll-out infrastructure for the adoption of hydrogen vehicles.

In 2019, the city of Liverpool benefitted from the Government’s decision, receiving a £6.4 million award for a bus project, and a hydrogen refuelling station for 25 hydrogen-fueled buses on the roads.


Meanwhile, London has also ordered 20 FCEV buses to support the net-zero cause as well.