Quadrant Smart sits down with Barry Carruthers, Hydrogen Director for ScottishPower, to learn what green hydrogen can offer and how we will see it scale up over the next decade.
Part of the Iberdrola Group, ScottishPower is the first integrated energy company in the UK to generate 100% green electricity. The company, which focuses on wind energy, smart grids and driving the change to a cleaner, electric future, is pushing forward the scale-up of green hydrogen power.
Speaking to Quadrant Smart about the importance of green hydrogen to Scottish Power, Barry Carruthers said: “We’re already a renewable electricity generator and when it comes to the challenge of decarbonisation, we know electricity offers the majority of the solution but for that final 10/20% we need something else and that’s why green hydrogen has to be something that we offer.”
Electrification needs to be adopted to combat climate change and green hydrogen is an essential solution in replacing fossil fuels for industry and larger, heavier modes of transport.
“Hydrogen has very flexible characteristics which we can take advantage of throughout society,” explained Barry.
This flexibility means green hydrogen can be moved around and located where people need it. To fully realise its full potential and utilise it to its full extent, green hydrogen power needs to be scaled up and adopted more widely.
Barry said there are “five key elements” which will drive forward hydrogen power:
- Capital support is required at the production side.
- Capital grants and support is needed for customers and hydrogen users.
- There needs to be a creation of a green hydrogen market and business model.
- Legislation and regulation around green hydrogen planning consent
- A change in operational mindset which will lead to a wider acceptance of the new renewable source of energy.
Scaling-up green hydrogen
Discussing how the energy industry will change over the coming years to facilitate the much-needed adoption of green hydrogen, Barry said: “We will see early adopters in industry, they know that they have to make a change, they know that they’re going to be facing things like carbon tax and climate change levies in the future and therefore they will want to invest further in the future with cleaner fuels.”
Comparing the scale-up of green hydrogen to the success of offshore wind power, Barry explained that offshore wind power over the past 10 years has turned into a global industry “literally powering a nation.”
With this in mind, Barry said, “We shouldn’t be scared of the scale of impact and speed of growth that can happen with green hydrogen.”
“What we do need to make sure is that we use it in the right places, and we don’t get caught chasing green hydrogen in cases which could actually be detrimental to the overall decarbonisation network,” he continued.
Green hydrogen for Scotland
Committed to the uptake of green hydrogen power, Barry told Quadrant Smart that ScottishPower “have a project in planning which [they] hope will be commercially available by 2023.”
ScottishPower plans to build the UK’s largest electrolyser to the UK’s largest onshore windfarm, Whitelee. The 20MW electrolyser is part of a green hydrogen facility able to produce up to 8 tonnes of green hydrogen per day.
The green hydrogen facility will be the first to be built as part of the Green Hydrogen for Scotland partnership of ScottishPower, BOC, and ITM Power.
Keen not to lose sight of what is important, Barry rounded up the interview stating, “We really need to remember this is not about trying to find projects for hydrogen, this is about the climate emergency. We don’t talk about the emergency part of that enough – this is urgent. That means finding the right projects really quickly and building them really quickly because we don’t have time to wait until some other technology may or may not come along.”