It’s clear now that hydrogen will play an important role in the UK’s ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Towards the end of 2020 we saw the publication of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Revolution and the long-awaited Energy White Paper from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Both placed hydrogen at their heart, recognising its potential to decarbonise domestic heating, heavy transport and the UK’s industrial clusters.
The 10-point plan provided greater clarity on the Government’s aim to work with industry to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. Earlier in January, a further £8m of Government funding for six industrial clusters was announced.
Crucial in understanding hydrogen is acknowledging the various ways it is produced. Its most common forms are Grey (produced from natural gas where the associated emissions are released to the air), Blue (produced from natural gas with emissions captured using CCUS) and Green (produced from electrolysis powered by renewable electricity).
Hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) are future-ready technologies which WSP has been supporting across the UK for some time. We’re currently working on the HyNet North-West project which is based on the production of hydrogen from natural gas and will include the development of CCUS infrastructure.
WSP undertook the conceptual design of the hydrogen pipeline and is currently undertaking the planning, environmental, stakeholder and land advisory advice for the CO2 pipeline.
In December, it was announced that WSP had been commissioned to prepare a six-month feasibility study for a hydrogen ‘super-hub’ at the Southampton Water industrial cluster. This multidisciplinary role sees our Industry, Gas, Energy Networks, Future Mobility, Maritime and Stakeholder teams collaborating on the study over the course of six months.
Our Industry Team has recently been appointed to work with Carbon Clean, a provider of carbon capture technology, to find suitable sites to trial new technologies that could potentially improve the efficiency of carbon capture. The BEIS Energy Entrepreneurs Fund supports the development and demonstration of the best energy-technology ideas and we are part of a consortium led by Carbon Limiting Technologies, to provide technical and commercial expertise. As part of this project, WSP will hand-pick the best sites across the country who can partner with Carbon Clean and support the next phase of this carbon capture product development.
WSP is at the forefront of some of the most exciting hydrogen and CCUS developments in the UK, using our skills and expertise on projects which could hold the potential to deliver the UK’s decarbonisation ambitions.
Though hydrogen will only be one of several solutions required to achieve net zero by 2050, its flexibility and various applications make it a strong candidate for further support and use in the decades to come.