Prince Charles drives futuristic hydrogen car in Wales

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The Prime Minister has said that he hopes to make Britain the “Qatar of hydrogen” and has outlined the UK’s Hydrogen Strategy as a core part of his “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution” as he looks to transition away from fossil fuels to power the economy. Rami Reshef, CEO of Gencell, believes this strategy to develop a low-carbon hydrogen sector is a “great step forward”.

He told Express.co.uk: “What we have heard lately from the Prime Minister is very encouraging.

“I have been impressed by his wording and I really hope that in a year or two from now I will also be impressed by the execution of his vision.

“What we have heard from Mr Johnson is a clear message that the UK should lead Europe with the implementation and adoption of hydrogen and a hydrogen economy.”

But Mr Johnson’s hydrogen plan has run into a few obstacles.

Whitehall has claimed that ministers were having to “push back” against opposition among civil servants to so-called “blue” hydrogen.

The Government aims to use a mix of green hydrogen, which is made from water using an electric current and is a net zero energy source, and blue hydrogen, made from natural gas which emits low levels of carbon to reach its target of generating five Gigawatts (GW) of low-carbon energy.

But this strategy has come under fire.

Whitehall officials are said to be resisting the shift to hydrogen after a Government source claimed that they have “made a bet several years ago on electricity” for the transition to clean energy.

And in an open letter to Mr Johnson, the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight said that the Government needs to “take a cautious approach to blue hydrogen, avoiding lock-in to unsustainable fossil fuel infrastructure that could push net-zero out of reach”.

Chris Jackson Chair of UK Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association (UKHFCA) said blue hydrogen is blue hydrogen “at best an expensive distraction and at worst a lock-in for continued fossil fuel use that guarantees we will fail to meet our decarbonization goals.”

But Mr Reshef said that Mr Johnson is doing the right thing.

He told Express.co.uk: “It is a good step forward to move from grey hydrogen to blue hydrogen.”

Grey hydrogen is also produced from natural gas, but has a significantly worse impact on the environment than blue hydrogen.

Mr Reshef said: “Going green in steps is absolutely ok, going from grey to blue and then eventually everything should be green hydrogen.”

He also praised the target Mr Johnson has set for the UK- five gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen capacity.

Mr Reshef told Express.co.uk: “It is a good step forward and again, I do believe that in order to make the big change that everybody is talking about needs to be done in steps.

“Five gigawatts is definitely a good number to reach but it will not be sufficient enough to carry the UK into 2040 and 2050.

“This is a number that will build the infrastructure for the second and third layer.”

But while Mr Johnson has set a target to make the UK a leader in hydrogen, it still lags behind other countries.

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While the five GW pledge puts the UK on par with Germany and Italy, it is still behind France’s 6.5 GW target.

And Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman of Ineos, the chemicals giant said that the UK currently lacks the same quality of infrastructure for hydrogen that can be found elsewhere.

He said: “The UK authorities have yet to get out of the blocks but hopefully soon will.

“The infrastructure, clearly critical, needs a government push on legislation and investment… Britain has only a handful of hydrogen pumps today.”

But Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has insisted that Britain is not too far from ramping up its hydrogen infrastructure.

He said back in August: “We’ll have hydrogen, we’ll have heat pumps, we’ll have heat networks in blocks of flats.”

A Government spokesman said: “Our Hydrogen Strategy outlines a clear ‘twin track’ approach to supporting multiple technologies including ‘green’ electrolytic and ‘blue’ carbon capture-enabled hydrogen production.

“Independent reports and advice from the Climate Change Committee note that a combination of hydrogen types is consistent with achieving our net zero goals.”

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