Environmental campaigning organisation Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES) have severely criticised the Scottish Government’s recently published Draft Hydrogen Action Plan.
Alex Lee, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Climate Campaigner said:
“This is a plan to sneak fossil fuels in the back door through the use of blue hydrogen.
“The First Minister spoke last week about moving away from oil and gas as quickly as possible, yet this Hydrogen Action Plan sets out how they will support continued gas extraction and production for hydrogen.
“The Scottish Government is marketing blue hydrogen, made from gas, as ‘low-carbon hydrogen’ but studies have shown that this blue hydrogen actually releases more carbon emissions than just burning gas.
“The Plan fails to spell out exactly how much fossil or renewable hydrogen the Scottish Government aims to support.
“Oil and gas companies are being financially backed by the Scottish Government to use Carbon Capture and Storage and hydrogen to allow them to keep drilling and exploiting fossil fuels.
“What we need to see instead is an urgent transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy in a way that’s fair to workers.
“The Plan also states that hydrogen could be used to heat homes and to power transport. However these uses are an inefficient, misdirected and expensive use of renewable electricity, which should be used to directly power electric vehicles and keep homes warm rather than converting electricity to hydrogen power.”
Commenting in the Draft Hydrogen Action Plan, Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport in the Scottish Government states:
“Scotland’s access to low-cost renewables, supplies of natural gas, carbon storage, utilisation of existing distribution infrastructure, proximity to demand, and our innovation support landscape can all contribute to greater efficiencies and thus reducing the cost base. Combined, these position Scotland to produce and then export the lowest-cost renewable and low-carbon hydrogen in Europe. “Michael Matheson
The Scottish Government’s plan relies on the production of Green Hydrogen – this uses renewable electricity – and Blue Hydrogen. Blue Hydrogen is made from fossil gas and is a process that still releases climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions. Blue hydrogen, sometimes called fossil hydrogen, relies on a technology called Carbon Capture and Storage to capture carbon produced from this process. There is no working CCS plant in the UK at this time.
The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the continued growth and development of the Scottish CCS Cluster which it states it requires to do ‘to ensure that Scotland reaches its net zero goals by 2045.’
Achieving the deep decarbonisation of industrial energy and heat demand will require large volumes of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen and other decarbonisation solutions to be produced and deployed.Draft Hydrogen Action Plan
According to research by Robert W. Howarth and Mark Z. Jacobson, How green is blue hydrogen? :
“Far from being low carbon, greenhouse gas emissions from the production of blue hydrogen are quite high, particularly due to the release of fugitive methane. “
And the research goes on to state that:” the greenhouse gas footprint of blue hydrogen is more than 20% greater than burning natural gas or coal for heat and some 60% greater than burning diesel oil for heat.
The paper concludes: “blue hydrogen has large climatic consequences. We see no way that blue hydrogen can be considered “green.”
The Scottish Government’s Hydrogen Plan is backed by £100million of funding. In addition to that the Scottish Government’s Energy Transition Fund is to be increased to £75 million.
Michael Matheson said:
“Both renewable and low-carbon hydrogen will play an increasingly important role in Scotland’s energy transition. Our priorities are to get as much renewable hydrogen into the energy system as quickly as possible while supporting the establishment of low-carbon hydrogen production at scale in the 2020s, linked to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).”