The plan involves helping Scotland to see almost a sixth of its energy produced by hydrogen by 2030. The focus will be on supporting regional renewable hydrogen production hubs and renewable hydrogen projects across the nation. The initial portion of the funding will go towards a £10million hydrogen innovation fund, due for launch next year in a move to improve the sector’s technology and reduce costs.
Scotland’s Net Zero and Energy Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Hydrogen has an important role to play in our journey to a net zero economy, by supporting the bold, urgent action required to deliver cleaner, greener energy and also by supporting a just transition – creating good, green jobs for our highly skilled workforce.
“Scotland has the resources, the people and the ambition to become a world leader in hydrogen production and our hydrogen action plan sets out how we will work collaboratively with the energy sector to drive progress over the next five years.”
The announcement also comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to make Britain the “Qatar of hydrogen”.
Mr Johnson has indicated that he thinks hydrogen has an important role to play in helping the UK to race to net zero emissions.
In fact, driving the growth of low carbon hydrogen was included in point 2 of the Prime Minister’s ’10-Point Plan or a Green Industrial Revolution.”
Mr Johnson pledged to work with industry the UK to aim for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030.
Mr Matheson agrees that renewable and low-carbon hydrogen will play an “increasingly important role” in the route to net zero.
He said: “The Scottish Government is fully committed to helping the hydrogen sector develop and grow.
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“We are investing £100million in renewable hydrogen projects over this parliament and, in addition to this, I am pleased to announce the expansion of our energy transition fund to support the development of a Hydrogen Hub in Aberdeen and help the region be at the forefront of the energy sector’s net zero transformation.”
But low-carbon hydrogen is not welcomed by all.
While green hydrogen is completely net zero, Mr Johnson’s UK Hydrogen Strategy, which sets out the approach to develope a thriving low-carbon hydrogen sector in the UK to meet ambition for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, also involves plans to use blue hydrogen.
The Government says that carbon capture (CCUS)-enabled ‘blue’ hydrogen production will enable the rapid growth of the sector while bringing down costs.
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Blue hydrogen is the process of converting natural gas to hydrogen and CO2, with the CO2 being sent to geological storage sites.
But opponents of blue hydrogen have argued that it is not sustainable.
Researchers from Cornell and Stanford universities published a report which claimed burning blue hydrogen for heating produces 20 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than using conventional natural gas on a life cycle basis.
And now, campaigners are sceptical of the Government’s new announcement.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s climate campaigner Alex Lee said: “This is a plan to sneak fossil fuels in the back door through the use of blue hydrogen.
“The First Minister spoke last week about moving away from oil and gas as quickly as possible, yet this hydrogen action plan sets out how they will support continued gas extraction and production for hydrogen.
“The Scottish Government is marketing blue hydrogen, made from gas, as ‘low-carbon hydrogen’ but studies have shown that this blue hydrogen actually releases more carbon emissions than just burning gas.
“The plan fails to spell out exactly how much fossil or renewable hydrogen the Scottish Government aims to support.”