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Cornwall Insight: UK falling behind Germany and South Korea with low-carbon hydrogen plans

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Global Hydrogen Review,

Research conducted by Cornwall Insight into countries that have branded themselves as potential leaders in the new hydrogen economy, has seen the UK rank 5th out of 15 countries.

The low-carbon hydrogen index explores countries with a strong potential for production or consumption of the fuel. Germany tops the index with a score of 8.1 out of 10. In comparison, the UK places 5th (6.5 out of 10) with its low-capacity target of only 5 GW, offsetting its relatively high rankings for hydrogen strategy detail as well as for storage and network targets.

Hydrogen is a very versatile energy source and will have an important role to play in meeting the UK’s target for net zero by 2050, especially in the decarbonisation of the industrial sector.

Germany topped the leadership board on government funding, pledging €7 billion (£5.9 billion) to expand its role in green hydrogen domestically and €2 billion (£1.7 billion) for international partnerships in the context of hydrogen. The UK have pledged £240 million for government co-investment in production capacity through the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund (NZHF), but by 2030 hope to attract at least £4 billion of investment to the hydrogen economy largely through private investment.

Naomi Potter, Lead Research Analyst at Cornwall Insight said: “The role of low-carbon hydrogen in achieving our net zero targets has been a hot topic of conversation of late. As the UK looks to increase green energy and decarbonise its industry, hydrogen’s versatility has significant potential for use across many areas that are critical to the industrial economy including steel and chemical production.

“Our low-carbon hydrogen index identifies a real determination from the UK government to move towards a greener and more efficient energy system, as well as a recognition of the jobs and other economic advantages that could come from developing a low-carbon hydrogen sector. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatening energy supply and increasing prices across Europe, investment in hydrogen will also help the UK move away from its reliance on unstable and costly energy imports.

“The UK however has some way to go until it reaches the commitment of Germany. With significantly higher investment and a new pledge to boost hydrogen targets to triple the speed of emissions cuts, Germany is proving itself to be a global leader on hydrogen policy.

“There is significant scope for the UK to aim higher, especially in its capacity targets, with a comparatively excellent geography for hydrogen production, a high renewables output and industries with relevant skills and workforce. It is clear from our findings that the UK government needs to up its game if it wants to become and remain a major player in the low-carbon hydrogen market.”

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