ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners are calling on the Scottish Government to end support for hydrogen technologies after a new report exposed “inefficiencies, soaring costs and a threat to renewable energy supplies”.

The report, Hydrogen’s Role In Scotland’s Climate Journey, commissioned by Friends Of The Earth Scotland, found that 98% of the global hydrogen market is fossil fuel-based.

It also found that using “green” hydrogen to meet Scotland’s heating demands would require 180% more renewable energy than the country currently produces.

“This research must change the conversation around the role of hydrogen in Scotland’s climate efforts,” said Alex Lee, Friends Of The Earth Scotland’s climate campaigner. “The evidence clearly shows that hydrogen is either made from climate-wrecking fossil fuels or it becomes a huge drain on renewable energy supplies.

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“The Scottish Government must end their support for the development of hydrogen from fossil fuels, which will only produce yet more climate pollution and give fossil fuel companies a chance to greenwash their image whilst they keep drilling new fields in the North Sea.

“Hydrogen from renewables is a high cost, low efficiency solution to our energy needs, and the Scottish Government must urgently rethink their plans for its expansion.

“Support for hydrogen looks like a losing bet when compared to direct electrification through technology like heat pumps and electric buses.

“By prioritising electrification over green hydrogen, the Scottish Government can better protect households from high costs and ensure renewables can clean up our energy system.”

Fossil fuel-derived blue hydrogen is produced by carbon capture and storage technology which the report concludes is only 60% effective, meaning huge amounts of pollution is released. It is dependent on emerging CCS technology that has repeatedly failed to get off the ground in the UK.

Green hydrogen, although not produced using fossil fuels, still has severe drawbacks, such as “enormous” levels of renewable

energy required to produce it. “For example, if Scotland’s 2030 target was to be met by green hydrogen, it would require 80% of the country’s entire renewable energy supply – enough electricity for over six million homes,” the researchers state.

The report found that using hydrogen to heat homes was more expensive and less efficient than electric through technologies like heat pumps. Electric heat pumps may be 168-342% more efficient than hydrogen boilers, while hydrogen boilers may be 53-68% more expensive than electric heat pumps, the report says.

Similarly, powering transport with renewable energy directly is already much more efficient, cheaper and more advanced commercially than deploying hydrogen in transport. Electric vehicles are more than twice as energy efficient than hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and adopting “green” hydrogen would require nearly twice as much new renewable energy capacity compared with electrification technologies, according to the research.

The campaigners are calling on the Scottish Government to end any further public funding to hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, and to prioritise electrification over hydrogen in areas such as heating and transport.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are clear that hydrogen has an important role to play in a just transition to a net zero economy, by supporting the bold, urgent action required to deliver cleaner, greener energy and also by supporting a just transition – creating good, green jobs for our highly skilled workforce.

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“Scotland has the resources, the people and the ambition to become a world leader in hydrogen production – and our hydrogen action plan sets out how we will work with the energy sector to drive progress.

“Our priorities are to get as much renewable hydrogen into the energy system as quickly as possible while supporting the establishment of low-carbon hydrogen production.

“The Scottish Government is fully committed to helping the hydrogen sector develop and grow. We are investing £100 million in renewable hydrogen projects over this parliament.

“We have awarded £15m through our energy transition fund to support the development of a hydrogen hub in Aberdeen and help the region be at the forefront of the energy sector’s net zero transformation.”