What is hydrogen?

Hydrogen (H 2 ) is a colourless and odourless gas, and when partnered with CCUS, is also low carbon.

It can be used to power industry and heat our homes and businesses as an alternative to using fossil fuels. When burnt, fossil fuels emit the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide while hydrogen only produces water vapour.

For this reason, its use by industry in place of fossil fuels could assist in lowering the country’s carbon dioxide emissions and will be critical to the UK achieving net zero by 2050.

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Carbon dioxide ( CO2 ) is a natural gas that is produced by most living organisms, including humans and animals. It is produced when we breathe out and is needed by plants to aid their growth and development.

As well as being an integral part of everyday life, CO2 is a by-product of burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas for energy. This is one of the major contributors to global climate change.

In 2019, the UK committed to reaching net zero by 2050 and reducing our CO2 emissions will play a large role in achieving this target.

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Carbon capture, usage and storage  (CCUS) refers to technology which captures, permanently stores, and utilises harmful carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions will be stored beneath the seabed in natural porous rock formations or depleted oil and gas fields.

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Government support

Both CCUS and hydrogen have strong support from the UK Government. The British Energy Security Strategy (2022) set the following targets:

  • Double low carbon hydrogen production capacity from 5GW to 10GW by 2030.
  • Capture 20-30Mt of carbon dioxide a year by 2030, building on the initial aim to deploy CCUS in two industrial clusters by the mid-2020s.

In October 2021, the Government confirmed the East Coast Cluster as one of two chosen for deployment by the mid-2020s.

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