Scotland should set out an ambitious “roadmap” to ensure it becomes a world leader in the hydrogen revolution to decarbonise economies, a new paper for ScotlandCan concludes today.
Written by Professor Ronald MacDonald of Glasgow University and Dr Don MacRae of HIAlba, the paper outlines how hydrogen could do for the Scottish economy what oil and gas has done for the last fifty years.
“We have done it once and we can do it again,” the authors reason.
It comes with the world’s first fleet of hydrogen fuelled double deckers already rolling in Aberdeen. Meanwhile, last month, Scottish bus maker Alexander Denis announced the production of its own new double-decker which has a zero emissions range of 300 miles.
With both Germany and Denmark already developing advanced technologies as nations race to become world leaders, the new paper declares: “Many countries have already produced a hydrogen roadmap for the future of planning and development of the hydrogen economy. It is important that Scotland produces its own.”
Representing Skye-based think tank HIAlba, the authors are adept in assessing the economic, social and environmental benefits of producing hydrogen from renewable energy and integrating this with greening the processing of oil and gas, including in offshore realms.
More powerful and much cleaner than fossil fuels, hydrogen is increasingly being trialled not just on buses, trucks, trains, ships and planes but also in industries such as steel and cement. It has been seized on as a way to fight against global warming because it emits only water when used, and production can be carbon neutral if powered by energy sourced from renewable sources such as wind.
However, it is still out of reach for most consumers due to the continuing high cost and complexity of its production.
With nations across the world racing to find ways to reduce cost and improve technology, Macdonald and MacRae argue that Scotland should invest heavily in research and development now.
They reason that: “It is vital that Scotland invests in achieving technological leadership.”
“This will require strategic targeting of financing of public and private investment in R&D, kickstarted by seedcorn funding from public sources.”
Their paper argues that by backing renewable sources, Scotland’s strong financial services sector could position itself as a world leader in green investment.
They are persuasive in outlining the case that: “The Scottish Investment Bank could play a leading role in creating the environment for this to happen along with the Scottish Funding Council and the University sector.”
The paper stresses: “Scotland is clearly already a world leader in the transition to renewable energy-based electrification, is almost self-sufficient in renewable energy and has vast potential to expand its production of renewable energy in areas such as the North Sea. Given the maturity of the North Sea hydrocarbon sector, and its further increased fragility as a result of the price falls arising during the pandemic, the need to replace this sector with an alternative, given its immense contribution to the Scottish and wider UK economy, has never been greater. The adoption of the hydrogen economy would seem to offer the ideal opportunity to do so.”