General Election won’t stand in the way of hydrogen progress as energy policies take centre stage at conference

Hydrogen growth in the UK will surge forward whatever the result of the next General Election, a Minister announced just hours after the Prime Minister revealed the UK would go to the polls in July.

At a keynote speech at this year’s Hydrogen Energy Association (HEA) annual conference on May 23rd, Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero joked that he was thrilled to be speaking to 500 delegates from across the hydrogen industry on “a bit of slow news day”.

But he was at pains to reassure the sector that energy policies would continue to be at the forefront of commitments from all parties.

He said: “I know that you will need certainty from government, and I think you would get that despite the election.

“We are trying to promote every aspect of the hydrogen economy for the industry so that investors can have confidence in its growth.

“We’re helping to create the conditions where a whole new section of the economy can help to take shape. Because the pursuit of home-grown renewables, the pursuit of low carbon fuels is a win for the planet. And of course, it’s a win for our vitally important energy security in troubled times in the world.”

He added that working with the HEA allowed politicians to understand and react to obstacles to growth to help meet Net Zero plans.

HEA Conference

CEO of the HEA Celia Greaves outlined the highlights of the last year in UK hydrogen including the announcement of 11 projects under the first Hydrogen Allocation Round (HAR1) with a Roadmap out to 2030 published to deliver investor certainty. 

She also launched a “10 Quick Wins for Hydrogen” document, developed with partners from the HEA convened Hydrogen Coordination Forum which brings together a range of national and regional bodies with hydrogen interests to further strengthen the voice for hydrogen across the UK.

She said: “The Forum’s latest work builds on initial dialogue across HEA members. As practitioners deploying projects, they are experiencing real-world, unanticipated challenges to hydrogen roll-out which could become increasingly significant blockers as scale-up accelerates.”

Many speakers addressed the issue of meeting future demand with a focus on investment and finance as well as planning and legislation.

HEA Conference

Vanessa Lowe, Vice President, Structured Finance, Santander, said: “Non-recourse project finance has an increasingly relevant role to play in the low carbon hydrogen sector and is key to accelerating the deployment of commercial scale hydrogen production.

“To facilitate project finance it is critical for developers to consider bankability early in the project lifecycle. At Santander, we are working with hydrogen developers globally to ensure the bankability of first mover projects.”

Highlights from the conference included a discussion between Chair of the HEA Amanda Lyne, who is also Managing Director of ULEMCo and Colm Murphy from Electricity System Operator (ESO).

The pair discussed how to ensure that Britain’s energy system is secure and affordable while forging the path to a sustainable future.

HEA Conference

Colm said: “We have been charged with looking at things in the round and there will certainly be trade-offs. We have to be thoughtful about how we deliver a whole system approach to the energy markets, including both the existing electricity and gas systems as well as future emerging markets of hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.”

He added that this was about “doing the right thing for end consumer, economy and environment.”