Key barriers to the development of hydrogen in the UK energy system

As part of the Innovate UK funded Hydrogen Innovation Initiative (HII) Seed project, the Energy Systems Catapult and the University of Birmingham undertook a series of interviews and analysis towards the end of Q1 2023 to identify and collate barriers to using hydrogen in the UK energy system for Net Zero. The interviews took place with 12 organisations representing academia, industry, government, network operators and regulators. This had a particular focus on the use of hydrogen to provide energy system flexibility.

The key barriers:

  1. Clear government direction and ambition: A lack of clear government direction on the role of hydrogen in the transition to Net Zero was felt to be a major barrier to early investment.
  2. Culture of decision and policy making: An industry culture of needs driven investment, relatively low risk appetite, risk adverse decision making and failing to convert early innovation to business as usual was identified as a barrier to hydrogen development.
  3. Market and regulatory innovation for hydrogen storage and flexibility: A lack of meaningful market signals to value flexibility provided by the gas sector was felt to be a barrier.
  4. Education: The skills needed to scale up the deployment of hydrogen from the planning system, through to manufacture, installation, and end users were felt to be barriers.
  5. Coordination in planning across whole energy systems: Whole systems planning, and co-ordinated delivery was not felt to be happening in any meaningful way. Government and regulation is needed to make this happen.
  6. Standards and standardisation: A lack of standards can be a barrier to the hydrogen transition, and increasing standardisation can help to drive down costs.
  7. The planning sector: The capacity within the planning sector to cope with increased levels of applications was felt to be a barrier.

What is the Hydrogen Innovation Initiative?

The Hydrogen Innovation Initiative’s (HII) mission is to accelerate the development of critical technologies and supply chains in the UK for the fast-growing hydrogen economy. HII partners include the Catapult Network, the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the Aerospace Technology Institute, the Net Zero Technology Centre and the National Physical Laboratory. HII is supported by Innovate UK.

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Key barriers to the development of hydrogen in the UK energy system

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