Concerns Raised Over Hydrogen Production in Scotland

 The Scottish Government has announced a £10 million Hydrogen Innovation Scheme which “will provide capital support over the next four years “

The aim is “to unlock additional private investment in the technology, and enable new companies to enter the sector.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland have raised concerns about the scheme. The environmental campaigning group want assurances that the Hydrogen Innovation Fund will not go to companies or projects producing hydrogen from fossil fuels.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Climate Campaigner Alex Lee said:

“The Scottish Government must not hand out any more public money for the development of hydrogen from oil and gas, which will produce even more climate pollution and give fossil fuel companies a chance to greenwash their dangerous plans to keep on drilling in the North Sea.

“Producing hydrogen from fossil fuels is an expensive and unnecessary way to clean up our energy system due to its reliance on dodgy technologies like carbon capture and storage which fail to work at the scale its backers claim. This approach is far from zero carbon and keeps us locked into the same volatile system of oil and gas which is already unaffordable for millions of people.

“The evidence clearly shows that hydrogen is either made from climate-wrecking fossil fuels or it becomes a huge drain on renewable energy supplies. Hydrogen is a high cost, low efficiency non-solution to our energy needs and the Scottish Government must urgently rethink their plans for its expansion.

“Whether it is in heating or transport, support for hydrogen looks like a losing bet when compared to direct electrification through technology like heat pumps and electric buses.  By ending support for fossil-hydrogen and prioritising electrification over green hydrogen, the Scottish Government can better protect households from high costs and ensure renewables can clean up our energy system.”

The Scottish Government aims to invest £100 million in hydrogen over the next few years.

Net Zero & Energy Secretary in the Scottish Government Michael Matheson said:

“Scotland has the resources, the people and the ambition to become a world leader in hydrogen production for both domestic use and for export to Europe.

“The Scottish Government is committed to working with the energy sector to establish hydrogen as an important part of a cleaner, greener energy system, supporting a just transition for the industry both home and abroad.

“Our offshore wind resources, which will increase massively in the coming years, offer huge opportunity for the Hydrogen sector to grow. As set out in our Hydrogen Action Plan, and our clear ambition to have 5GW installed hydrogen production capacity in Scotland by 2030 and 25GW by 2045. 

“We are open to the world and actively seeking opportunities to collaborate with international partners. The Hydrogen Innovation Scheme provides important, near-term investment to help the sector develop, diversify and realise it’s potential to support our transition to a net zero economy.” 

FoE Scotland produced a report Hydrogen’s role in Scotland’s climate journey . It found that found that 98% of the global hydrogen market is fossil fuel-based.

The report also show how ‘green’ hydrogen, whilst lower carbon than fossil fuel-derived hydrogen, has serious drawbacks such as the enormous levels of renewable energy required to produce it.

Key findings from the report

  • Using green hydrogen to meet Scotland’s heating demand would require 180% more renewable energy than Scotland produces currently
  • 80% of current renewable energy supplies would be needed to create just 5GW of green hydrogen
  • Electric heat pumps can be 168-342% more efficient than hydrogen boilers
  • Hydrogen boilers can be 53-68% more expensive than electric heat pumps
  • Electric vehicles are more than twice as energy efficient than hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
  • Adopting green hydrogen in industry would require nearly twice as much new renewable energy capacity compared to electrification technologies


Image credit Martin Laird

1 reply »

  1. Yet again, even if expansion of the (still costly and also with some downsides associated) green Scottish hydrogen production is pushed forward… I would consider it unlikely that Scottish residents and particularly households in the isles will truly benefit from this. Also as always, job creation seems to be founded on some kind of euphoria and therefore be overestimated, which has been the case in wind energy developments which have not alleviated fuel poverty in the isles in any way whatsoever as many are finally realising.

    Already partnerships and agreements resp. letters of intent have been signed between Scotland and Bavaria with future plans for a green hydrogen pipeline to Bavaria by 2030 (and in the interim hydrogen transport by ship).

    If hydrogen becomes an internationally traded commodity, as it happened with food and many other essential goods, and we deviate further away from traditional and very reasonable concepts of satisfying own demand first and selling surplus, then the path will be exactly the same as we experienced before: what is produced locally will not benefit local people and costs will keep on spiralling…

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