Hydrogen Sector DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton WaldristMain Page: Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Conservative - Life peer)
My Lords, I had the great pleasure of coming to Parliament this morning in very beautiful, absolutely silent hydrogen-powered car. I assure noble Lords that the hydrogen economy is well and truly with us. UK-made, world-first hydrogen boilers, fuel cells, buses, planes, ships and trains all exist—and, importantly, they are safe—and are in use and supporting UK jobs. With hydrogen as point 2 in the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan, can the Minister say a bit more about what action the Government are taking now to bring forward policies to unlock the £3 billion of shovel-ready private investment for UK hydrogen projects?
My Lords, given that the Hydrogen Taskforce estimates that the UK hydrogen economy can create and sustain 75,000 jobs—I note that the Minister mentioned 100,000 jobs just now—what new training programmes are being developed to ensure that there are sufficient highly-qualified people to take these jobs?
Does the Minister recognise that leaving it to the market alone to choose between blue and green hydrogen will not deliver the step change in production that is required? Will the Government now set a specific target for the UK’s green hydrogen capacity by 2030, as many countries across the world have already done, in order to stimulate private sector investment, drive down costs and deliver on the Government’s overall net-zero target?
My Lords, I refer the House to my entry in the register. While I very much welcome the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution, is my noble friend aware that the accelerating shift to electric vehicles is being interpreted by many as an outright ban on the internal combustion engine? This is concerning. Is it, in fact, Her Majesty’s Government’s intention to ban the internal combustion engine? Is my noble friend aware that the internal combustion engine can be operated very efficiently with zero-carbon, green hydrogen, and thus contribute to zero emissions? Fossil fuels are the enemy, not the internal combustion engine.
I draw the attention of noble Lords to my entry in the register. There remain significant technical risks with the use of hydrogen. For example, capture rates of carbon capture and storage technology used in the production of hydrogen could result in high residual carbon emissions. Therefore, does the Minister agree that mature, low-carbon heating technologies, for example heat networks and heat pumps, should be deployed at a rate commensurate with the 2050 target, in case hydrogen does not prove viable at scale?
Last week’s announcement of the scattergun 10-point plan as a global template for delivering net-zero emissions, amounting to only £500 million for low-carbon hydrogen production by 2030, contrasts with the €7 billion hydrogen investment announced by the German Government. What kind of hydrogen, and the split, will this involve? The key issue is to create a UK hydrogen gas production and supply network, utilising excess wind power at times of low demand to produce green hydrogen energy-dense power. When might the Government have answers to these real questions?
My Lords, the UK has the opportunity to become a true world leader in the manufacture of hydrogen buses. Last week, the Chancellor committed to purchase 800 zero-carbon buses. How many of these will be hydrogen? Can the Minister tell the House when funding will be made available for the rest of the 4,000 UK-made buses that the Government promised last February?
My Lords, I welcome the reference to hydrogen in last week’s 10-point plan. The Minister will be aware that the energy sector has a long track record in Gwynedd and Ynys Môn. Can she give some indication of how the 10-point plan will help the many relevant industries in Wales play their part in supporting the UK’s commitment on net zero?