Hydrogen and the Net Zero Journey

The UK is the first major country to set the challenge of having net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But significant challenges need to be overcome if the UK is to meet its net zero target. Important progress has been made in reducing emissions since 2008, but this has happened mostly in the power sector. There has been less progress in some high-emitting sectors, such as industry, transport and buildings.

We will need to use hydrogen in these sectors to help meet our net zero targets.

Making industry low-carbon

If the UK is going to meet its net zero target, then industrial processes must become low-carbon. Low-carbon hydrogen can be used as a key raw material in refineries and chemicals production, in high-grade heat processes, and in steel and glass manufacturing.

Widespread industrial decarbonisation needs clean hydrogen, both for raw materials and high-grade heat.

Switching to low-carbon transport

We need to reduce emissions from transport, using zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure to achieve net zero. Hydrogen will play a key role, especially for larger vehicles, which are less suited to electrification, and where consumers demand rapid refuelling.

Hydrogen-powered cars have a greater range and faster refuelling times than electric cars. Hydrogen is also a cost-effective way of providing regional train services.

Reducing emissions in our homes

Around 85% of households use natural gas, which causes carbon dioxide emissions, for heating and cooking. Only 5% of households use low-carbon heating.

The UK has the oldest and leakiest housing in Europe. Many people would have to retrofit their entire homes if they switched to electric solutions like heat pumps.

Hydrogen has several advantages over electric solutions, including less disruption and lower upfront costs for consumers. But there is no single, easy way to make our buildings low-carbon.

A “one-size-fits-all” approach is unlikely to meet people’s needs. Hydrogen boilers, heat pumps, district heating, or a combination of these, are likely to be used on an area-by-area, need-by-need basis.

Boosting clean energy

The UK is relying more and more on renewable electricity, which is intermittent. Hydrogen can provide storage capability, enabling greater use of renewables and helping to balance supply and demand on the energy grid. Hydrogen can also relieve pressure on electricity networks arising from the increased use of electric vehicles.