A trade body which represents the UK’s energy networks has said that current plans to invest in the roll-out of hydrogen in the UK could create 25,000 jobs in Britain.
The Energy Network Association (ENA) said that around 17,000 of these jobs could be focused in Britain’s industrial clusters.
The jobs will come from planned hydrogen projects, as the industry proposes to invest £4.4bn in developing hydrogen gas grids to help switch industrial areas to a new fuel.
Around 9,000 people will be employed by the network companies themselves, with another 8,000 in their supply chains, the ENA said.
It is part of a total £6.8bn of planned investment projects.
Network companies have been pushing for hydrogen to become a major part of the UK’s 2050 target to reach net zero emissions.
However, while hydrogen emits no greenhouse gas when it is burned, an overwhelming majority of today’s hydrogen is produced from natural gas.
When the gas is transformed into hydrogen it produces carbon dioxide. Proponents of this method say that this can be captured from the air and stored underground, but opponents worry that the capture technology is not as effective as claimed.
Hydrogen can also be produced by splitting water molecules. However this is an expensive process which requires much electricity.
Chris Train, ENA’s Gas Goes Green champion, said: “For the first time, this report sets out the sheer size and scale of the economic and social opportunities that hydrogen innovation can deliver over the next 10 years, creating new green, hydrogen super-skills in communities and companies across the country.”
Separately, the UK Government will invest £265m per year to prop up renewable energy production as it tries to ensure that Britain’s offshore wind production quadruples in the next nine years.
This is part of the Contracts For Difference scheme, which guarantees energy producers a minimum price for ever megawatt hour of electricity they produce.
During the fourth iteration of the scheme, details of which were announced on Monday, the government will try to secure twice the capacity of the third round.
This will generate more electricity than the three previous rounds combined. The first round of contracts was launched in 2014.
In the latest funding, £200m will go to supporting offshore wind. The UK currently has a little over 10 gigawatts of offshore capacity and Westminster has pledged that this will reach 40 gigawatts by 2030.
It said that £24m has been set aside for floating wind turbines, while money will also – for the first time since 2015 – go to onshore wind and solar projects, mainly in Scotland and Wales.
Although only £10m has been earmarked for these projects, the plan is to encourage 5 gigawatts in new capacity.
Businesses can bid to be Contract for Difference developers, with those who say they can produce energy the cheapest in each category selected for funding.
There are three categories: Established technologies, including onshore wind, solar and hydropower; less-established technologies, such as floating wind turbines, tidal, and geothermal power; and offshore wind.
Claire Mack, chief rxecutive of Scottish Renewables, said: “This auction comes at a crucial time for the UK’s climate leadership and I’m very pleased to see that greater renewable capacity will be unlocked by what is being set out today, particularly recognising Scotland’s offshore expertise and ambition.
“While we are pleased that a balanced range of technologies will be supported, we are concerned that as little of 1.5GW of onshore wind could be secured, which would fall far short of what is needed to meet net zero goals.
“We were also hoping that more ring-fenced support would be offered to our impressive tidal sector, which stands ready to demonstrate its’ growth potential by deploying at the next level of commercial scale.”
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