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 Scotland’s green hydrogen opportunity
Renewable energy

Scotland’s green hydrogen opportunity



Scotland faces a crucial moment in its journey towards achieving a sustainable future as it acknowledges that 2030 net-zero targets are unlikely to be met, albeit with a commitment to reach the long-term 2045 targets.

Within this challenge lies a significant opportunity for transformation.

Enter… green hydrogen power.

Green hydrogen is a fuel produced through electrolysis, where water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable energy sources such as wind, tidal or solar power. Unlike traditional hydrogen production methods which rely on fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases, green hydrogen production generates zero emissions.

Green hydrogen power holds immense promise for Scotland due to its abundant renewable energy resources.

Once produced, green hydrogen can be used in various sectors. One of its most promising applications is in transportation. Hydrogen fuel cells can power a wide range of vehicles, from cars and buses to trains and ships, offering a clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

It also has the potential to decarbonise the industrial sector. In steel production, green hydrogen can replace carbon-intensive coke used in blast furnaces.

Green hydrogen also offers a solution to the intermittency issues that affect wind and solar energy by providing an alternative storage option. The energy produced can be converted and stored as green hydrogen when supply exceeds demand then reconverted into electricity when needed, ensuring a stable and reliable energy supply.

The Scottish Government published its Hydrogen Action Plan in 2022 to help pave the way to make Scotland a world leader in hydrogen production, outlining the Government’s target of achieving at least 25GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2045 and committed £100m of investment from the Emerging Energy Technologies Fund to help support green hydrogen projects. Of this fund, £7m has already been allocated to the Hydrogen Innovation Scheme, which will finance 32 different projects to help boost the production, storage, and distribution of green hydrogen across Scotland. The plan also estimated that Scotland has the potential to produce up to 3.3m tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2045, with 2.5m tonnes available for export.

The Hydrogen Coordination Forum, which unites UK and regional organisations within the hydrogen sector, unveiled last month the ten key initiatives to bolster the development of new hydrogen infrastructure. These initiatives range from outlining plans to accelerate overall roll-out, streamlining the planning framework to mitigate costs and delays, and temporarily relaxing certain requirements to make costs more competitive. Ruth Herbert, CEO of the Carbon Capture & Storage Association, described the new strategies as crucial “to accelerate enabling policies and foster investor confidence to secure the UK’s position as a world-leading hydrogen economy.”

However, one of the primary obstacles to fully harness the potential of green hydrogen in Scotland lies in the need for significant infrastructure development.

A key challenge stems from the cost competitiveness of hydrogen compared to fossil fuels. Green hydrogen remains more expensive than grey or blue hydrogen which are both derived from natural gas.

Scotland must also develop more hydrogen production facilities to establish a robust distribution network. Currently, the number of such facilities in Scotland falls short of meeting demand. Moreover, efficient storage and transportation of hydrogen present an additional hurdle. Due to its low energy density, hydrogen requires large storage tanks or complex compression systems. Existing pipelines and infrastructure designed for natural gas may require modifications to transport hydrogen effectively.

However, this month marked a significant development with the unveiling of plans to establish 13 new Regional Hydrogen Hubs in Scotland. These hubs will focus on the production, storage, distribution, end-use, and exportation of hydrogen. Additionally, independent green energy company GreenPower has secured planning approval for a green hydrogen production facility in Oban, which could become operational by the end of 2025.

The Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Freeport Hydrogen Programme brings together key partners who share ambitions for the region’s renewable, low-carbon future. The programme aims to develop a state-of-the-art hub in the Cromarty Firth to produce, store and distribute green hydrogen at scale to the region, Scotland, other parts of the UK and Europe.

Green hydrogen, though still in its early stages of development, holds immense promise. Continued investment in essential infrastructure is crucial for enhancing production and storage capacities. This will make green hydrogen more cost-efficient and readily available, enabling it to compete with blue and grey hydrogen as well as fossil fuels.

This development is essential for Scotland as it continues to pursue its goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2045.


Glasgow Edinburgh Inverness Elgin Thurso Shetland
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