Scotland’s hydrogen economy

Fuel cell, MSUs and local ferry, at Kirkwall Pier,
 © Colin Keldie

Delivering a bright future through collaboration and innovation

In December 2020 Scotland became the first country in the UK to publish a hydrogen policy statement, six months after publication of the German hydrogen strategy. This sets out Scotland’s vision for hydrogen and how we can maximize our massive potential in the sector. Our accompanying Hydrogen Assessment Report appraised the potential for hydrogen to be deployed to help achieve our stretching decarbonization targets. Its economic impact scenarios concluded that Scotland has the potential to deliver up to 126 terawatt-hours of green hydrogen per year by 2045, up to 96 terawatt-hours of them for export. This would protect or create between 70,000 and over 300,000 jobs – in a population of 5.5 million – and deliver gross value-added impacts of between GBP 5 billion and GBP 25 billion.

It is clear that hydrogen will play an important role for all of us in our energy transition to net-zero and is a key component of the green recovery post-Covid 19. In 2019 Scotland tightened its legally binding climate change targets to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, with a 75 percent reduction by 2030 against the 1990 baseline. To achieve this, we need to move at an unprecedented pace across our whole economy to deliver the innovation, investment, regulation and market environment that will enable the required step change toward net-zero.

Hydrogen is rapidly emerging as a key sustainable solution for the decarbonization of the economy. We believe that Scotland’s abundant resources – natural, human and physical – will support the establishment of a thriving hydrogen sector both in Scotland and in the emerging global hydrogen market. Producing clean hydrogen and demonstrating that it can be used to help meet the challenging energy demands of industry, transport and heat will be a key part in Scotland’s energy journey.

Our ambition is for Scotland to become a leading hydrogen nation and a strong international partner in the production of sustainable hydrogen. The Scottish government will support the strategic growth of a strong hydrogen economy, focusing our efforts on the development of our hydrogen production capability to meet an ambition of at least 5 gigawatts of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen by 2030 and at least 25 gigawatts by 2045. The scale of our ambition will be familiar to German readers, with our hydrogen production plans for 2030 the equivalent of the target set by Germany. Naturally, we look forward to working closely with others such as Germany to advance this opportunity.

Scotland’s resources and expertise

We have confidence in setting such high ambitions since Scotland has access to all the key components of a hydrogen economy. Scotland has the potential to produce industrial-scale quantities of firstly blue hydrogen and then – internationally more important – green hydrogen from our offshore and onshore wind resources and our potential wave and tidal power.

… Read more in the latest H2-International e-Journal, Aug 2021

Authors: Michael Matheson MSP – Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport; Dr. Alexandra Stein – Head of Scottish Government in Germany

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