As someone who works in a Gas Distribution Network at a strategic level, specifically on the future of gas projects of which hydrogen is a huge part, you might expect me to take issue with Keith Anderson of Scottish Power’s call to ‘electrify the hell out of everything’.
But I actually agree with him. Getting to net zero requires pace and we need renewable electricity to decarbonise personal transport (cars) and heat. So if fast-tracking electricity innovations that are ready to go and easy to do helps us get there, I’m all for it.
At the same time, let’s be aware that this will get us so far – possibly even up to 80% carbon reductions – but in order to achieve that last crucial 20% we will certainly need other energy sources of which hydrogen is one. The vital role that hydrogen will play is now widely acknowledged and the government has rightly invested in large scale demonstrations to prove this point.
The fact is, we need to do both – do electricity now and hydrogen as soon as we can – to have a system that caters for quick decarbonisation and delivers the harder parts that we also need.
Let’s stop the one versus another debate and agree that this is just about timing. Several hydrogen projects are currently being built and will no doubt prove their worth in a couple of years. They will deliver decarbonised domestic heat, high heat industrial power and the ability to make HGVs carbon free. And if there are electricity innovations that can deliver reduced emissions right now, let’s embrace them sooner rather than later.
For both electricity and gas there will need to be swift decisions on policy and regulation changes, a great deal of investment from the government and a period of adjustment for the public. All of these are doable and the benefits they bring include a better environment for us and our children, the creation of thousands of jobs and the development of an integrated green economy of which we can all be proud.