COP26 Roundtable: How Will Hydrogen Fuel The Future?
Ahead of COP26, H2 Green hosted a roundtable to discuss fuelling the future and what role green hydrogen plays in decarbonising the transport sector. 

Ian Spencer hosted the roundtable, Head of Business Development at H2 Green. The event kicked off with a presentation explaining the integral role hydrogen can play.

Within the presentation, Ian explained the importance of tackling intermittency issues with solar and wind. Naturally, this is a significant issue as to be green, the electricity used in hydrogen production needs to come from renewables.

Ian Spencer, Head of Business Development at H2 Green.

“If you look across much of the scenarios in the net-zero strategy, you are seeing a huge chunk of intermittent energy production. Producing when the wind blows, not when we necessarily need it, is set to be involved in 60% of electricity generation.”

Continuing, he explained: “So, the system is changing from a demand-led system. We need to balance the intermittency.”

Tackling intermittency is top of the to-do list

Shutting down wind farms cost an estimated £270 million for the UK Government in 2020 alone. If this energy had been captured for hydrogen production, it could have filled 12,000 hydrogen buses for a year.


This issue is set to increase as it is based on current levels of renewable energy production. As we get closer to 2050, the potential for strained wind will increase dramatically.

Focussing more on the view on hydrogen by decision makers and local authorities, Ian told the roundtable: “We’re seeing some bold moves and councils now. Councils can provide the anchor in supporting and planning the infrastructure.”

Everyone is in the mindset that we need to start planning now. Whether it is battery-electric, whether it is hydrogen, everyone needs to be planning now for the deadline that is coming around the corner

Also in attendance at the roundtable was Sara Grainger, Head of Accelerator Unit at Transport for Scotland. She spoke about the UK his commitment to five gigawatts of hydrogen by 2030. “In addition to that, Scotland has a commitment to five gigawatts of hydrogen production by 2030 and 25 megawatts by 2045. That is both domestic use and export.”

“Over the last few years, there has been an unhelpful debate about fuel cell versus battery electric for transport. That chapter is moving on to what is the best technology in each particular case.

There is no silver bullet for net-zero, the more options the better

This consensus from the industry is positive, as there is a growing sense of agreement that both are necessary to transition away from fossil fuels.

After lunch, we heard from Mike Hurley, Senior Engineer at Tp Group and Colin Smith, Chief Executive at Scottish Wholesale Association. Mike took the time to address the roundtable around building electrolysers to produce hydrogen.

The recent UK Government hydrogen strategy states hydrogen demand will be 20 to 30% of the UK overall energy consumption by 2050.

Mike explained: “To make this green solution, electricity needs to be generated from renewable sources. If we look at the rail industry as an example, to meet these targets, they have to remove all the diesel-only trains from the network by 2040.”

“They also have to go from electrifying 700 miles of track to electrifying around another 8000 miles, which is an incredible target. So, to tackle the key challenges to make this happen, we need regulation on the use of hydrogen, which will improve safety and reliability.

Colin added to this, explaining: “We need government investment to help drive down the technology costs and improve the delivery times of the technologies.”

We have got a huge challenge in front of us in terms of how we decarbonise our fleet. We represent 80% of the industry. When the infrastructure is there, certainly in these key locations where vehicles do not just stay in one location every day, there will be a big uptake

From all conversations around the table throughout the day, there was one clear message. The industry is at the turning point of pushing on with the deployment stage of hydrogen fuelling the future.

Speaking in tandem with this was Head of Business Services at Glasgow City Council, Harjinder Gharyal. He spent his time explaining how essential policy is in the implementation process.

Continuing, he explained: “We have invested in support, managing supply, and fuelling. So, we have had to work extremely hard and change our thinking on hydrogen and the uncertainties that come with it. A lot of our challenge is getting a real understanding of what the fundamental fears are, to understand what that transition to decarbonisation is.”

With many more conversations and debates around hydrogen and the deployment stage continuing throughout the day, Peloton Events COP26 roundtable came to end.

Meet the roundtable guests:

Ian Spencer        Head of Business Development                H2 Green (Sponsor)

Mike Hurley       Senior Engineer                                           TP Group (Sponsor)

Sara Grainger    Head of Accelerator Unit                           Transport Scotland

Colin Smith        Chief Executive                                            Scottish Wholesale Association

Chris Ashley       Head of Policy                                              Road Haulage Association

Graham Ireland Head of Energy                                            Iceland Foods

Neil Osborne     Climate Change Manager                           Highland Gov

Harjinder Gharyal    Head of Business Services                 Glasgow City Council

Pete Nesbit        Managing Partner                                        Edenseven