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Hydrogen Energy

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2020

Both the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan and our energy White Paper, which we published yesterday, set out our bold ambition for the UK to be a world leader in low-carbon hydrogen. As set out in the White Paper, we are determined to make tangible progress in this important sector, including by investing £240 million through the net zero hydrogen fund and supporting industry to begin a hydrogen heating trial in an entire neighbourhood by 2023. We will publish a comprehensive hydrogen strategy early next year.

The development of hydrogen energy can lead to thousands of new jobs UK-wide, including an estimated 6,000 in my region through the HyNet project. Will my right hon. Friend do all he can to help HyNet access industrial decarbonisation challenge funding to allow it to progress?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right: this is all about jobs—high value-added jobs. He, along with other colleagues in the House, makes the case at every opportunity for the HyNet project, and it is very lucky to have him as a champion. As he will know, HyNet has already received funding through phase 1 of the industrial decarbonisation challenge, as well as £13 million of support through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy energy innovation programme. We will announce the winners of the next phase of the industrial decarbonisation challenge in spring next year.

Bacton gas terminal in my constituency harbours a significant percentage of the natural gas intake into the UK. What assessment has my right hon. Friend made of the potential opportunities presented for the manufacture of blue hydrogen at Bacton, creating low-carbon jobs for the east of England?

My hon. Friend again raises the issue of jobs. Of course, creating these low-carbon jobs across the country is a priority for the Government. As I have set out, in our 10-point plan and the energy White Paper we have put forward policies for the creation of a significant number of jobs. The Oil and Gas Authority is currently conducting an in-depth feasibility study into blue hydrogen at the Bacton gas terminal. I very much welcome that work, and my officials and, indeed, Ministers would be very happy to engage further with my hon. Friend on this matter.

I am pleased to see that the net zero hydrogen fund that the Secretary of State just mentioned will support, among other things, the production of hydrogen. Will he commit today to using that fund to prioritise the production of green hydrogen, as opposed to blue hydrogen, in the future?

We will have to look at what bids come in in respect of how that funding is used, but I say again—I made this point yesterday at the Dispatch Box—that it is not just public money; we are also talking about private sector money coming alongside it. The hon. Gentleman will know that Hydrogen Strategy Now, a campaign group of more than 50 companies, has said that it is ready to invest £3 billion in hydrogen projects, and that was after the publication of the 10-point plan.