The House of Lords’ Science and Technology Select Committee has urged the government to publish its hydrogen strategy this summer, saying the UK needs a clear hydrogen strategy that “must be coordinated with the government’s other decarbonisation strategies, to enable the use of hydrogen in those sectors for which it is the most viable option.” This includes the use of hydrogen storage to maximise the potential of renewable electricity.
Greater use of hydrogen technology is one suggestion to help the NHS to decarbonise its estate, with the development of biomass boilers and combined heat and power engines that run on hydrogen. Ambulances powered by hydrogen are also being trialled. However, the government needs to support more investment in the development of fuel cells and battery technology, and hydrogen fuelling infrastructure is necessary both at depots and on the strategic road network.
The report, ‘Battery strategy goes flat: Net zero target at risk,’ from the House of Lords highlights that the electricity grid is going to be under considerable pressure as the country works towards decarbonisation, but other technologies are not moving quickly enough to fulfil the potential demand.
“In order to decarbonise the electricity system by 2035 and to meet at least a doubling of demand by 2050, there need to be large upgrades to network capacity, smart controls need to be implemented and a wide array of storage technologies must be deployed. Without batteries of different scales and potentially fuel cells drawing on stored hydrogen, increasing amounts of renewable energy will be wasted.”
The report also cautions that faster deployment of the infrastructure for electric vehicle charging is essential to give companies and individuals the confidence to invest in them. It wants to see the public charging network expanded to deliver 325,000 charging points by around 2032. Currently, (August 2, 2021), the UK has 15,831 locations where a public charging point is installed. (Figures are according to Zap-Map and further breakdown of charging point data, including slow, fast, rapid and ultra-rapid is also available).
The development of battery technology is also lagging behind where it needs to be, and the Lords’ report recommends the government should provide additional funding for battery and fuel cell R&D. On its current trajectory of battery manufacture, the UK will not be able to support the transition to electric vehicles or to meet its net zero commitment.