Ireland’s Hydrogen Strategy: What Does it Entail?
The Government of Ireland has launched its National Hydrogen Strategy. Hydrogen Industry Leaders explores the key takeaways from the strategy.

Ireland’s National Hydrogen Strategy sets out the strategic vision of the role that hydrogen will play in Ireland’s energy system, looking to its long-term role as a key component of a zero-carbon economy.

It also sets out the short-term actions that are needed to be delivered over the coming years to enable the development of the hydrogen sector in Ireland.

Hydrogen has the potential to provide Ireland with energy security

Assessing both the long-term needs and short-term actions to enable hydrogen to develop across the entire value chain, the National Hydrogen Strategy is aiming to address the following:

  • How will Ireland kickstart and scale up the production of renewable hydrogen?
  • Which end-use sectors will hydrogen be targeted towards?
  • What infrastructure does Ireland need to support the development of the hydrogen sector?
  • How will Ireland ensure that the necessary safety, environmental and market rules are in place?
  • How can Ireland create conditions that will support continued technological growth and innovation?

There are three primary strategic reasons why the Government of Ireland has decided to focus on developing a hydrogen sector in Ireland.

These are decarbonisation, energy security, and developing industrial opportunities. On this, the report expresses that: “Ireland is on a pathway to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.”

Delivering on this legally binding target will require no less than a transformational change of our entire energy and economic ecosystem.

Hydrogen has the potential to play a huge role in enabling the transition and becoming a substitute for fossil fuels in multiple sectors of the economy that are seen as hard to decarbonise.

In addition, hydrogen can also play an important role in ensuring the security of Ireland’s energy supplies into the future.

In 2021, Ireland imported 77 per cent of its energy supply, up from 72 per cent in 2020. However, due to its location, Ireland’s coast is one of the most energy productive in Europe. It has one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in the world.

Harnessing this renewable energy into the production of renewable hydrogen provides a significant opportunity for Ireland to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels and help to achieve energy independence.

Whilst supporting decarbonisation and energy security are at the forefront of delivering the National Hydrogen Strategy, there is also potential in both industrial and export market opportunities that may arise from its development.

With many countries across Europe having identified a long-term need for renewable and low-carbon hydrogen imports to meet their own decarbonisation targets, Ireland has the potential to be well-placed to supply these markets.

Ireland’s hydrogen strategy is working with other policy papers

The development of a hydrogen strategy has interlinkages with other government policy papers that are already published or in development. These set clear parameters under which the National Hydrogen Strategy must ensure coherence.

One of these is the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021. This is an act which commits Ireland to a legally-binding target of a climate-neutral economy no later than 2050 and to a reduction in emissions of 51 per cent by 2030.

It provides the framework for Ireland to meet these targets, including the preparation of Sectoral Emissions Ceilings and the setting of Carbon Budgets.

Another important policy paper that the strategy is interlinked with is the Climate Action Plan 2023. The Climate Action Plan 2023 is the second annual update to the Climate Action Plan 2019.

This sets out how Ireland can amplify the actions that are required to respond to the climate crisis, putting climate solutions at the heart of social and economic development.

In the plan, it highlights that decarbonised gases such as renewable hydrogen will be a critical component for Ireland’s energy ecosystem and in the longer term it could play a key role in sector coupling, and in minimising the overall cost of decarbonisation across all sectors.

The EU Hydrogen Strategy is connected with EU hydrogen initiatives

Several EU policy developments and initiatives are also highly relevant to Ireland’s National Hydrogen Strategy.

The Ireland Government has revealed that this helps to: “Set clear ambitions and principles for Member States to consider in the development of national policy and measures to enable cooperation and cross border activities in this area.”

One of these EU policy developments and initiatives is the EU Hydrogen Strategy. This has set out a vision of how the EU aims to turn clear hydrogen into a viable decarbonisation solution.

It sets out an investment agenda for the EU, discusses boosting the demand for and scaling up production, explains how the EU can design a framework for hydrogen infrastructure and market rules, and promotes research and innovation into hydrogen technologies.

Another EU policy that is relevant to Ireland’s strategy is the EU Energy System Integration Strategy. This sets out the need to develop a more integrated energy system and optimise the use of existing assets to deliver the energy transition at least cost.

The strategy is considering the needs of the entire hydrogen value chain including production, end-users, transportation and storage, safety, regulation, markets, innovation, and skills.

It also sets out that Ireland will focus its efforts on the scale-up and production of renewable green hydrogen.

Going forward, the strategy will work to provide clarity for stakeholders on how Ireland expects the hydrogen economy to develop and scale up over the coming decades, across the entire value chain.