Climate Change (Role of Hydrogen)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 24th November 2022.

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Photo of John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party

2. To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the Friends of the Earth Scotland report, “Hydrogen’s Role in Scotland’s Climate Journey”. (S6O-01590)

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is fully committed to growing our hydrogen sector. Our support for hydrogen is underpinned by a broad evidence base, including our hydrogen policy statement and the draft hydrogen action plan, as well as findings from the Climate Change Committee and reports from the International Energy Agency. Our position that the growth of renewables and hydrogen is complementary is shared by key stakeholders such as Scottish Renewables. A systems approach combining increased renewable electricity, energy efficiency and hydrogen will be required to deliver net zero. I will publish our final hydrogen action plan before the end of the year.

Photo of John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party

The Friends of the Earth report is somewhat sceptical about hydrogen, but does the minister agree that green hydrogen is by far the best type of hydrogen and that there are specific uses, such as longer-term storage, industrial uses and, perhaps, remote rail lines, where hydrogen could be best?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

Green hydrogen, taking advantage of Scotland’s massive renewable energy resources, will be a key plank of our hydrogen strategy going forward. However, our priority is to get as much renewable hydrogen into the energy system as quickly as possible, while also supporting the establishment of low-carbon hydrogen production at scale in the 2020s. That will also be linked to carbon capture and storage.

As a Government, we are convinced that hydrogen, alongside renewable electricity, will play an extremely important part in our energy system going forward. Electrification will do the heavy lifting in our march towards net zero, but there are parts of our economy and energy system that are very difficult to electrify. Hydrogen, in all its forms, could provide a solution for some sectors such as heavy-duty on and off-road transport, shipping, aviation, industrial high-temperature heat and, potentially, some parts of our domestic heating systems. Clearly, we are on a new journey, and we will look at the variety of types of renewable energy that are out there.

Photo of Foysol Choudhury Foysol Choudhury Labour

At First Minister’s question time, the First Minister said in reply to my colleague Martin Whitfield that the Scottish Government would focus on the growth of both hydrogen and green hydrogen as part of Scotland’s renewable energy mix. Given that the Friends of the Earth Scotland report highlights problems with hydrogen and green hydrogen, can the Scottish Government assure me that its focus will be on the forms of energy that we can rely on for our transition to net zero?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

Our policy is based on exploiting the massive opportunities that hydrogen offers, not only from its use in Scotland but from its export to other countries, particularly those on the European continent, given the energy crisis and the expected increase in demand there for hydrogen, which could be produced in Scotland. Our policy is to support green hydrogen—renewable and low-carbon hydrogen—which will be necessary, as I said in my remarks to John Mason, for certain industries in Scotland. That will offer great opportunities.

We must learn as we go. Green hydrogen, in particular, is a huge opportunity for Scotland .