Opportunities for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to contribute to clean growth in the UK

Hydrogen is expected to have an important role in decarbonising several parts of the UK energy system. This white paper examines the opportunities for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies (H2FC) to contribute to clean growth in the UK.

We assess the strength of the sector by surveying 196 companies working in the area and using other key metrics (for example, publication citations, and patents). There is already a nascent fuel cell industry working at the cutting edge of global innovation. The UK has an opportunity to grow this industry and to develop an export-focused hydrogen industry over the next few decades. However, this will require public nurturing and support. We make a series of recommendations that include:

  • Creating separate national fuel cell and hydrogen strategies. These should take UK energy needs, capabilities, and export opportunities into account. There is a need to coordinate public R&D support and to manage the consequences if European funding and collaboration opportunities become unavailable due to Brexit.
  • Creating a public–private “Hydrogen Partnership” to accelerate a shift to hydrogen energy systems in the UK and to stimulate opportunities for businesses.
  • Putting in place infrastructure to underpin nascent fuel cell and hydrogen markets, including a national refuelling station network and a green hydrogen standard scheme.
  • Study what would constitute critical mass in the hydrogen and fuel cell sectors, in terms of industry and academic capacity, and the skills and knowledge base, and consider how critical mass could be achieved most efficiently.
  • Consider creating a “Hydrogen Institute” and an “Electrochemical Centre” to coordinate and underpin national innovation over the next decade.

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