Monday, June 29, 2020

Hydrogen infrastructure Investment Could Fuel Greener HGVs Trains and Ships of the Future

Industry and Unions Unite to Call for Government Action Now
Shipping News Feature

UK – In 2018 the Policy Exchange group published a report, 'Fueling the Future', which looked at the benefits of investing in hydrogen technology with a view to employing it as a weapon in the UK's fight to decarbonise in line with government policy. Now four of the country's largest unions are pressing the government to push forward a strategy which they say will create and sustain thousands of green jobs.

Last week the political group once again was pressing government over energy policy and one of the key points made was that it should be actively encouraging and rewarding the deployment of new flexible technologies including hydrogen. The statement brought immediate backing from one who has practical experience in the field.

Jo Bamford, the JCB heir who owns hydrogen energy producer Ryse Hydrogen and Northern Ireland-based bus company Wrightbus, has been pushing for investment in the technology to help get the hydrogen economy moving. He said:

“The time is now to invest in hydrogen and make the UK a leader in the technology, and I applaud Policy Exchange on its findings. I am fully committed and have invested heavily in providing not only thousands of hydrogen buses to the streets of cities and towns, but also to building a strong hydrogen infrastructure across the UK. This will help kick start the UK’s hydrogen economy, which has the potential to create a quarter of a million green jobs.

“There are no limits to hydrogen. The UK’s hydrogen economy starts with buses today, but can be used in other heavy and large vehicles, like lorries, trains and ships, but after that it could be heating our homes, powering heavy industry. In order to get there we are going to need a clear policy framework from the Government to allow business to invest, we need a UK-wide hydrogen strategy. If we don’t get that soon, then we are going to get left behind and lose out.”

Policy Exchange says that green hydrogen projects offer the most immediate infrastructure investment opportunities and that the Government could replicate the All-Electric Bus Town scheme for hydrogen, which would support the UK’s developing hydrogen bus manufacturing sector. With a technology which is transferable to lorries and other road haulage vehicles the real target is to find ways of driving down the amount of energy required in order to produce the gas at a lower cost.

The EU has been working on a Hydrogen Strategy Roadmap looking at projects in Germany and France, and this month a new cross-industry group consisting of 41 companies which together employ over 100,000 staff and turnover in excess of £100 billion signed a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for a £1.5 billion investment in the technology. Signatories to the letter include:

Adelan, Air Products, Alstom, Anglo American, Arcola, Arup, Ballard, BayoTech, BCGA, BOC, Bosch, Bramble, Cadent, EDF, ENA, Energy UK, Enterprise, Equinor, EUA, Green Tomato Cars, ITM, JCB, Johnson Matthey, Kiwa, Nel, Orsted, Riversimple, Ryse, Siemens, SMMT, Storengy, UK H2Mobility, UKHFCA, ULEMCo, Uniper, Vattenfall, Wales & West Utilities, Waste2Tricity, Wrightbus, WSP, Ulemco.

The letter received immediate support from the UNISON, Unite, GMB and Prospect unions which represent collectively 200,000 workers and who immediately forwarded a letter of their own to the Chancellor signed by the four general secretaries, which said:

“We can look across the world and see other nations bringing forward multi-billion pound, job-creating hydrogen strategies. The UK cannot afford to risk being left behind and failure would result in the UK not meeting its net zero obligation and a loss of high skilled and quality jobs.”

Photo: Handle with Care. The image of the death of the airship Hindenburg, taken from the pages of the now defunct Philadelphia Public Ledger, was one to scare many away from use of hydrogen for decades.