A hydrogen future on the horizon

September 10, 2020
A hydrogen future on the horizon

Next month, Aberdeen is set to become the first city in the world to introduce revolutionary hydrogen powered double-decker buses. This is not the first time Aberdeen has been a world leader in the adoption of hydrogen for transport. The UK’s first hydrogen production and bus refuelling station opened in the city in 2015, and the arrival of these new vehicles will complement Aberdeen’s existing fleet of 10 hydrogen buses and enhance the city’s role as a pioneer in the adoption of green energy for public transport.

With the UK’s ambitious emissions reduction targets, the adoption of low carbon vehicles for public transport is an increasingly attractive prospect. While Aberdeen may have proven itself to be an international model for the successful adoption of hydrogen transport, there is still more to be done for the city to establish itself as a global centre for the broader adoption of hydrogen for energy.

In August, the economic impact assessment carried out by the Hydrogen Taskforce predicted that hydrogen could be worth up to £18billion for the UK economy by 2035. Aberdeen must broaden its hydrogen horizons to continue to lead the way and to be a contender for a portion of this promising hydrogen economy.

The energy sector is increasingly ready to embrace the promise of hydrogen. DNV GL’s 2020 report ‘Heading for Hydrogen’ found that while one in five senior professionals in the sector report their company is currently working to enter the hydrogen market, more than half expect that the gas will form a significant part of the energy mix within a decade. Hydrogen is on the horizon, and now is the time to act to make the most of this opportunity. But what are the potential forms in which the UK can deliver low carbon hydrogen for energy?

Blue hydrogen, when the majority of CO2 released in the process of grey hydrogen production is captured and stored via carbon capture and storage (CCS), presents the easiest opportunity for the UK to embrace hydrogen. Empty gas fields under the North Sea present huge opportunities for CCS, uniquely positioning Aberdeen as a potential hub for blue hydrogen growth.

Once CCS is deployed at scale, blue hydrogen is an attractive to natural gas producers. However, in the longer term there will be a shift to a truly carbon neutral solution with blue hydrogen acting as the facilitator for the eventual growth of green hydrogen.
As the price of renewable electricity becomes increasingly competitive and the cost of electrolysers decreases, green hydrogen has the potential to become significantly more cost effective than it is presently. A Renewable UK report released in May found that high renewable energy capacity coupled with strong climate targets make it likely that green hydrogen will become cost-competitive in the UK faster than in other parts of the world.

While blue hydrogen may be more widely adoptable in the short term, green hydrogen holds long term promise in driving forward decarbonisation. It is vital that Aberdeen continues to lead the way in the adoption of green hydrogen for energy, to ensure the delivery of a zero-carbon future and to secure our place as a leader in this growing portion of the energy mix.

Get in touch

The team at AREG is committed to ensuring that businesses in Aberdeen City and Shire capitalise on opportunities in renewable energy and that our members achieve success in this rapidly growing market. Please contact us with your news, views, concerns and successes so that we are well placed to deliver on your behalf.

AREG has played an important role in the growth of Scotland’s renewable energy sector, engaging the supply chain and developing the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. However, we are only at the very beginning of the transition that AREG was established to both lead and support so there are still opportunities for companies to get into the constantly evolving renewables supply chain. We look forward to continuing our work together as renewables builds on its place as Scotland’s main source of power, and as we seek to deliver real change in the crucial areas of heat and transport.

Scottish Renewables

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with AREG since its formation. The recent progress in the developments of offshore wind projects by Equinor and Vattenfall are as a result of the work of the group over many years. The north-east is known as the oil and gas capital of Europe. At the Chamber, we believe the region must evolve its position to being recognised as the energy capital. Whilst hydrocarbons will continue to be essential in driving our economy for years to come, the generation of renewable resources will play an increasingly important role in providing cost-effective power, innovative development and economic growth.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce

The enthusiasm and dedication of the early group that would become AREG was fundamental in us choosing to launch All-Energy in Aberdeen. The first tiny show was held in 2001, and AREG’s Chairman at the time, Jeremy Cresswell, played such an active role that I often describe him in terms such as All-Energy’s ‘midwife’. All-Energy is now the UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference in terms of number of attendees, space booked, and number of exhibiting companies. As AREG became firmly established, their presence and support for the event grew spectacularly over the years. We thank them most sincerely for their invaluable input.

All-Energy

Vattenfall has forged a strong working relationship with AREG through the development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. AREG has worked tirelessly on behalf of the North East and it can take enormous credit for the growth of sustainable energy in the region and the path it has cleared for the region to capture further investment.

Vattenfall

Aberdeen City and Shire is emerging as a key location for renewables by successfully transferring its world-class oil and gas expertise into the sector and AREG has done much to advance this through a broad range of initiatives. It has acted as a catalyst in driving further investment in the local economy by engaging with companies, Government, public bodies and existing projects and we have been pleased to support their efforts. Scottish Enterprise will continue to engage with AREG as we increase Scotland’s use of renewable energy.

Scottish Enterprise