Development of an indigenous green hydrogen industry could generate GBP 320 billion for the UK economy and sustain up to 120,000 jobs by 2050, a new report finds.
The Offshore Wind and Hydrogen: Solving the Integration Challenge Report was released by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.
The report examines the potential for hydrogen to play a key role in providing the flexibility, and short and long-term energy balancing, required for integrating high percentages of offshore wind into the UK energy system and achieving the UK’s net-zero climate change targets.
The report highlights that the UK has the right level of offshore wind capacity potential, and a strong industrial base, combined with world-leading academic research, to develop a sustainable, low-cost green hydrogen industry, one that produces hydrogen without CO2 emissions from electrolysis of water.
This will create a major new manufacturing sector for the UK and substantial export opportunities, bringing significant economic benefits, the report said. By 2050, green hydrogen from UK offshore wind can be cheaper than blue hydrogen, which is produced from methane using carbon capture and storage.
National Strategy Needed
However, to capitalise fully on this opportunity, the report calls for government intervention now and a new national strategy to support the creation of supply and demand in the new industry.
This includes an integrated approach to deliver accelerated deployment, supported by appropriate regulation and policy, targeted research and development, and the infrastructure to carry out full-scale demonstration and validation of new products and services.
“Offshore wind and hydrogen together form a compelling combination as part of a net-zero economy for the UK, with the potential to make major contributions to jobs, economic growth and regional regeneration as well as attracting inward investment, alongside delivering the emission reductions needed to meet our commitment to net zero,” Julia King, The Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Offshore Wind Sector Champion and Chair of the Solving the Integration Challenge Sector Deal working group set up by OWIC, said.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the UK, we must act with urgency to get this industry operational and build on the UK’s strengths.”
The report is a direct result of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal between the UK government and the offshore wind industry, according to Benj Sykes, Industry Chair of OWIC.
”Offshore wind is on track to become the backbone of our electricity system and that role will become even more important as it becomes the power source to make low-cost renewable hydrogen at scale. The UK needs to build full-size pathfinder projects as soon as possible to secure our position as a world leader in this exciting new combination of innovative technologies,” Sykes said.
Andrew Jamieson, CEO of ORE Catapult said that the same drop in the cost of offshore wind, spurred on by scale-up and rapid innovation, could be seen with the hydrogen technologies such as electrolysers.
”UK industry and academia have a lead in this fledgling industry. We have set out a ten-year programme for the UK to convert these advantages into an economic success story,” Jamieson said.