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Thoughts

Hydrogen UK: Supporting the industry in the large-scale commercialisation of hydrogen

30th Nov, 2023

THE CHALLENGE

To achieve net-zero emissions targets, the UK must find ways to rapidly decarbonise. With an ability to reduce carbon emissions from a variety of sectors, including industry, transport and power generation, hydrogen energy may be an essential component of achieving emissions reductions.

Alongside electrification using renewable energy sources, the production of hydrogen with carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) represents an important transition away from high-polluting fossil fuel consumption.

Avoiding carbon emissions at the point of use, the development of this ‘CCUS-enabled hydrogen’ will be vital for low-carbon growth. Upscaling
CCUS-enabled hydrogen will push the nation further towards achieving net-zero targets, while creating a hydrogen economy that will enable zero-carbon electrolytic hydrogen to be established in the market. There was a clear need in the market for a trade association dedicated to hydrogen solutions, and
demonstrating the role it has to play in the pursuit of net-zero.

THE SOLUTION

In recognition of the value of hydrogen as an energy vector, Gemserv first formalised its hydrogen-related activities in 2020 by setting up the Hydrogen Taskforce. The taskforce comprised both employees at Gemserv and an external membership base, who together called for the publishing of a UK Hydrogen Strategy.

With the government engaged, the Gemserv-led taskforce played a key role in the development of the detailed strategy, offering specialised knowledge and expertise to develop Hydrogen Business Models and a Net Zero Hydrogen Fund.

In summer 2021, the Hydrogen Taskforce had grown significantly in terms of both membership and impact, so a decision was made to formalise the group into its own trade association known as ‘Hydrogen UK’. The main driver for this decision was to facilitate a more detailed approach in helping develop a hydrogen economy, supporting industry in the next stages of development, and ensuring maximum inclusivity of different membership organisations.

As the hydrogen sector was maturing and moving closer to large-scale commercialisation, the main aim and focus of Hydrogen UK was to support industry in establishing the UK as a leader in hydrogen solutions.

To create the organisation, the Hydrogen Team at Gemserv developed and deployed appropriate governance structures and worked closely with those in industry and government to understand their respective needs and working structures.

Once an appropriate organisational framework was developed, the Hydrogen Team were able to identify key areas of focus including:

  • Producing robust analysis to show how hydrogen can contribute to net-zero.
  • Working with government to grow markets for hydrogen solutions.
  • Supporting initiatives to deliver excellence throughout the supply chain.
  • Educating and mobilising stakeholders about the hydrogen opportunity.
  • Connecting members and policy officials via the delivery of regular events.

As an active trade association, Hydrogen UK is dynamic in its activities and delivers technical expertise, resources and stakeholder engagement from one go-to organisation.

Officially launched in November 2021 at the Royal Society in London, with the support of the UK Government and key industry players, dynamic evolution takes place, with new developments implemented through the organisation’s ten working groups. These focus on different aspects of the hydrogen
economy.

An Annual Conference has also been secured – one of the UK’s largest hydrogen events. The next iteration will take place in March 2024. Hydrogen UK host further events including the annual Hydrogen Investment Forum and quarterly breakfast briefings across the country.

THE IMPACT

To date, Hydrogen UK has built a membership of 100 companies from across the hydrogen value chain including some of the biggest names in energy, such as Cadent, BP, EDF and Shell. This membership base is expected to see continued growth as the organisation further establishes itself, following the launch in November 2021.

The trade association has developed costed policy positions that have influenced the decision to develop a UK Hydrogen Strategy. It has also developed analysis at the request of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), which has informed hydrogen strategy and policy.

The association’s involvement with government has gone from strength to strength, having played a crucial role in the development and passage of the Energy Bill, hosting the first Hydrogen Investment Forum in collaboration with BEIS, providing analysis for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero across numerous sectors, and establishing itself as a unified and leading voice for the industry.

Hydrogen UK has further formed excellent links with government, especially within The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the Department for Transport. Hydrogen UK meet regularly with ministers within these departments as well as HM Treasury and are often engaged with directly by government.

Authors