The UK has announced an ambitious target to achieve a net zero carbon economy by 2050. It is widely acknowledged both within the UK government and industry more broadly that hydrogen will play a key role in achieving this target. The potential role of hydrogen in the transport and heating sector is seen as particularly important.

In September 2020 the UK commenced trials of its first hydrogen powered train. A £750,000 grant from the Department of Transport has been made available to test the technology which, if successfully proven, will enable the retrofitting of existing rolling stock to operate on hydrogen.

£6.3 million has also been ear-marked for a hydrogen re-fuelling station to be constructed in Glasgow and used to support 19 hydrogen-powered refuse trucks.

In the context of domestic heating, National Grid is participating in a trial project to test the use of hydrogen to heat homes. Ofgem (the UK energy regulator) approved the project in November 2020 and construction is anticipated to commence in 2021 with testing scheduled for 2022. Various blends of hydrogen will be tested under varying pressures to assess how assets will perform.

Whilst these pilot projects are seen as real positives nevertheless there continues to be a lack of a clear hydrogen strategy in the UK. Recent government announcements have confirmed that a detailed hydrogen strategy is being developed. It may be that the UK's hydrogen strategy will be included in the long awaited and highly anticipated Energy White Paper, currently scheduled to be published in Q1 2021.

So, whilst some may dream of a White Christmas the UK energy industry is hoping for an Energy White Paper.

Originally Published by Mayer Brown, December 2020

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