Fuelling the future: what is the role of hydrogen in the low carbon economy?

  • Wednesday, 17 October, 2018
    11:30 - 13:15

The concept of a ‘hydrogen economy’ has been put forward by proponents for many decades. In theory, this abundant element is a perfect solution to our clean energy needs. It does not produce greenhouse gases when burned, it can be stored in large quantities for long periods, and it can be used as a fuel in virtually every sector of our economy, from transport to heavy industry to home heating. Despite the notion existing for some time, and recognition of the environmental benefits that this entails, it is yet to materialise fully.

Electric cars have begun to gain a foothold in the market while those powered by hydrogen fuel cells have stalled. In heavy industry, the lack of a serious carbon tax disincentivises the move to cleaner alternatives than coal and gas. And although hydrogen does not produce carbon dioxide when burned, the primary method of producing it, steam methane reformation, does.

Where the application of hydrogen has utility is in the role it can play in the global and national energy transition that is underway. As such, its role should not be limited to one application but should be focused on the challenges of this transition focussing on: how best to integrate variable renewables; decarbonising hard to reach sectors and fossil fuel feedstocks; and how it can perform the function of an energy system buffer, one that is currently provided by natural gas.

Opening remarks from

  • Felix Lerch, Country Chairman, Uniper
  • Mike Foster, CEO, Energy and Utilities Alliance

Followed by a panel event with

  • Clare Jackson , Hydrogen hub manager, Hydrogen hub
  • David Joffe, Head of Research, Committee on Climate Change
  • Professor Marcus Newborough, Development Director ITM Power
  • Simon Clarke MP, Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland