Shropshire MP calls for swift action on strategy for hydrogen power

A Shropshire MP has given a backhanded compliment to the Government over its "eagerly-awaited" strategy for using hydrogen power.

Philip Dunne MP
Philip Dunne MP

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne chairs the influential parliamentary environmental audit committee and his response to the government's strategy launch was to urge faster action.

Mr Dunne said he welcomed the hydrogen strategy and the opening of a consultation, because it "finally gives industry some clarity on the government’s intention for hydrogen in our low-carbon energy mix".

While he welcomed the move as a "step forward", he added: "I have to say it is disappointing that only now – after being promised the strategy in November last year – are the necessary consultations being launched on how to overcome funding issues and how to define ‘low carbon’ hydrogen."

He added: "These critical issues should have been ironed out in advance of this strategy. I urge the government to act swiftly on the outcomes of these consultations.

"The UK has a strategic advantage from the prospect of generating green hydrogen from surplus offshore renewable energy generation, but the opportunity should not be missed."

Mr Dunne said he welcomed the move to look into the blending of hydrogen into the existing gas supply.

But he wants to see more carbon capture to avert damaging emissions currently created in what is known as blue hydrogen production.

The gas is generated by combining fossil fuels with steam, and heating them to around 800 degrees Celsius, which releases both greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

He added: "At present 95 per cent of hydrogen produced worldwide uses fossil fuel feedstocks, and without action to stem the emissions entailed, the use of hydrogen on the scale envisaged by government will unlikely get us to Net Zero Britain.”

In its announcement this week, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said developing a hydrogen economy could support more than 9,000 jobs and unlock £4 billion investment by 2030.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng wants to replace natural gas in powering around 3 million UK homes each year as well as powering transport and businesses, particularly heavy industry.

The Government believes that 20-35 per cent of the UK’s energy consumption by 2050 could be hydrogen-based, and help the country reach net zero emissions by 2050, and on the way cutting emissions by 78 per cent by 2035

Mr Kwarteng said: "Today marks the start of the UK’s hydrogen revolution. This home-grown clean energy source has the potential to transform the way we power our lives and will be essential to tackling climate change and reaching net zero."

But Zoe Nicholson, for the Green Party, said the move would not help make progress towards net zero carbon.

"Creating dirty hydrogen from fossil fuels doesn’t help make any progress towards net zero and instead takes investment away from actual sustainable energy options," she said.

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