Hydrogen plays a strategic role for industrial decarbonisation and industry is already a key driver of hydrogen innovation and demand. IDRIC’s research and innovation portfolio brings together the UK’s leading academic experts from over 20 universities and with the experience of over 70 industry partners to address real-world decarbonisation challenges in industrial clusters. IDRIC therefore welcomed the opportunity to submit a response to the Scottish Government consultation on its Draft Hydrogen Action Plan which was submitted in January.
The urgency of meeting Net Zero targets and creation of a strong hydrogen economy requires attention across the whole hydrogen value chain. While production targets currently receive most attention, IDRIC’s response also emphasised the need for strengthening hydrogen demand and ensuring supply that meets the need of end users. In particular, supporting innovation and fuel-switching of industrial users will be key to unleash hydrogen demand quickly and sustainably. Industrial clusters are leading drivers for innovation and deployment of different hydrogen applications, and the development of shared key infrastructure and supply chains. Industry can therefore provide valuable lessons for other sectors of the economy. Underpinning strong hydrogen production and use, there is an urgent need to develop crucial infrastructure for transport, geological storage options, and ensure effective planning and consenting frameworks. Expanding supply chains and enabling skills transition are crucial tasks to ensure positive socio-economic impact in the short and longer term and require close collaboration between academia, industry and governments.
The experience of industrial clusters across the UK has shown that a regional approach can unleash many synergies, linking supply and demand of multiple end-users and enabling the sharing of infrastructure. Equally important will be to ensure knowledge exchange and learning across regional and industry hubs. IDRIC welcomes the creation of the Scottish Hydrogen Innovation Fund and the initiative of a Scottish Hydrogen Innovation Network. In our response we highlighted key areas where innovation support is needed to close key gaps in knowledge regarding the production and cost reduction, use, transport and storage of hydrogen as well as its integration into the wider energy system.
Drawing on an extensive network of expertise and work across industrial clusters, IDRIC is preparing a policy paper outlining gaps, needs and routes to ambition on hydrogen for industrial decarbonisation. We are also developing a digital knowledge exchange platform to ensure that academic knowledge in industrial decarbonisation is transferred effectively to our industrial partners, allowing for the acceleration of innovation and for new technologies to mature rapidly.
By John Ferrier and Anna Pultar, IDRIC Policy Research Officers