The UK Hydrogen Strategy provides a welcome route map for the sector but there’s still much more work to be done
August was a big month for the hydrogen industry with the long-awaited publication of the UK ‘s first ever Hydrogen Strategy.
The strategy showed how far the industry has come in convincing policymakers about the potential benefits of hydrogen within a very short time. It set out a clear direction of travel, with policy commitments set to unlock over £4 billion in investment and create thousands of jobs by the end of the decade. The government will support multiple technologies by taking a twin track approach to ‘green’ hydrogen, produced by using electrolysers powered with renewable energy, and ‘blue’ hydrogen production, enabled by carbon capture processes. The strategy contained funding options for hydrogen projects across the supply chain, including a £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, and a “preferred Hydrogen Business Model” will be designed to overcome the cost gap between low- carbon hydrogen and fossil fuels.
Still, the industry’s journey is far from over. Before the policy framework is finalised, there will be formal consultations on the preferred Hydrogen Business Model and the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, as well as a ‘UK Low Carbon Hydrogen Standard’ and a hydrogen production strategy. A decision on using hydrogen for home heating has been put off until 2026. And the 5GW target may yet be increased. These provide the industry with a big opportunity to shape government policies on hydrogen. Government and the industry will need to work together to deliver the policies needed to support innovation, boost investment, and scale up low-carbon hydrogen in the 2020s.
The Hydrogen Strategy highlighted another, parallel challenge: the need for both the industry and government to look beyond Whitehall to achieve these goals. Local authorities will be important in ensuring adoption of hydrogen at the local level. The supply chain will need to scale up and reskill the hydrogen sector. And of course, public buy-in will ultimately be needed. The sector is increasingly aware of these imperatives and the government’s strategy contained a welcome commitment to work with industry, trade unions, the devolved administrations, local authorities, and enterprise agencies to support sustained and quality jobs.
Both industry and government seem to have their work cut out. Research over recent years has found that public knowledge of hydrogen and hydrogen blending is low. Likewise, many local authorities appear to have a limited appreciation of hydrogen, its potential and applications.
There is, however, a growing level of interest and debate around the role of hydrogen in delivering net zero and creating a prosperous economy. For instance, in the ten days following the launch of the Hydrogen Strategy, it was the subject of more than 440 articles in leading UK publications, a jump of more than 350 per cent on the previous ten-day period. While most of these articles appeared on 17 August, the day of the strategy’s publication, there was a steady drumbeat of coverage and commentary afterwards, with around 20 articles about the strategy appearing per day.
With key policies still to be finalised, important audiences yet to be informed and convinced about hydrogen’s potential, and a media that is becoming more interested, the hydrogen industry has big challenges ahead – and a great deal to play for.
On Tuesday 7 September, the Hydrogen Taskforce, a coalition of the industry’s largest organisations, will launch a major campaign to show how hydrogen can play a leading role in accelerating the UK’s journey towards net zero. The Building a Hydrogen Society campaign will showcase the many benefits for local communities of applying hydrogen in running public transport, powering our industries.
By Neil Stockley, Director of the Energy team. Madano advises clients across the Energy sector, if you’re interested in learning more, please contact: MadanoEnergyPractice@madano.com
Strategic communications and insights consultancy Madano has appointed Neil Stockley as a Director in its growing Energy practice.
Drawing on a wealth of political and communications consultancy experience, gained right across the energy sector, Neil will provide senior counsel to Madano’s range of clients in the low-carbon and clean energy space. He previously served in Director roles at Bell Pottinger and MHP following his tenure as Director of Policy for the Liberal Democrats.
Commenting on his new position, Neil said: “This is an exciting and challenging time for the energy sector, with the drive to net-zero emissions, and Madano is supporting some of the most exciting innovators who are at the heart of the energy transition. I’m looking forward to working with our clients to help shape the future of the industry.”
Michael Evans, Managing Partner at Madano, said of Neil’s appointment: “For more than two decades, Neil has helped organisations across the energy sector overcome policy, regulatory and political challenges in the context of the increasing drive towards decarbonisation. His expertise will only serve to improve the Energy practice’s offering and contribute to Madano’s sustained growth.”
Madano’s Energy practice provides specialist communications support to companies and organisations in the energy and environment sectors, with a focus on the low-carbon economy and clean energy sector. The practice’s deep and long-standing expertise helps clients make sense of industry developments by tracking emerging government policy, managing media sentiment, overseeing campaign delivery and engaging with key stakeholders.
Alongside a Budget that focused heavily on the immediate actions required to return to growth and respond to the economic impacts of Covid-19, the Government published Build Back Better, its plan for growth, a new economic strategy for the post-Brexit, post-pandemic world with technology, net zero and innovation at its heart.
Autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review will still be significant in putting this to work longer term, but Build Back Better makes clear that today’s Budget, and recent announcements such as the £800m ARIA and the Green Industrial Revolution, are part of a bigger picture for the Government. Its three pillars are infrastructure, skills and innovation. New strategies expected over the next year, such as a Hydrogen Strategy, Innovation Strategy, a Transport Decarbonisation Strategy, and Digital Strategy, will all connect back to Build Back Better.
It aims to build a connecting economic narrative for the future of the UK, with leadership in science and innovation, and the transition to net zero, all creating transformative changes in productivity and quality of life in regions across the country.
Our highlights included:
- The new Future Fund: Breakthrough, a £375m public-private fund to invest in promising, R&D-intensive companies ready to scale up with equity rounds of over £20m, showing Government’s seriousness about a greater appetite for risk and supporting companies directly.
- The launch of the new National Infrastructure Bank, expected to deliver £12bn in public and sector project investment from Spring onwards and drive forward new net zero projects.
- Freeports, eight new economic zones spread across nearly every region, with special regulatory, development and taxation rules to incentivise high-tech investment.
- Several commitments on green finance, including a change to the Bank of England’s remit to include environmental sustainability, and new green savings products and bonds.
Levelling up remains a key focus. Alongside freeports, the location of the new National Infrastructure Bank in Leeds and the Treasury’s new Darlington hub make that abundantly clear.
Undoubtedly, the focus today will be on measures taken by the Chancellor to safeguard the economy as the UK travels on the roadmap towards the end of COVID-19 restrictions. But today’s Build Back Better plan demonstrates that when the Conservatives go to the electorate at the end of this Parliament, they will be expecting to do so having established a more productive economy that leads in innovative industries, and is making strides towards a lower carbon energy system.
Strategic communications and insights consultancy Madano today announced that it has been chosen by Ceres Power for an integrated communications brief, advising the fuel cell technology firm on external communications, public affairs, digital and social media.
Ceres Power is an innovative fuel cell and engineering company based in Horsham, U.K., aiming to bring cleaner and cheaper energy to businesses, homes and vehicles. Last year, the company announced partnerships with Doosan, Bosch and AVL which will significantly scale-up the deployment of its solid oxide fuel cell technology in key markets around the world.
Madano will be working with Ceres Power to improve awareness among key stakeholders in the media, government and beyond of the company’s recent impressive progress and the contribution it can make towards achieving net-zero goals.
Michael Evans, Managing Partner, Madano, commented: “This is the latest in a series of exciting integrated comms briefs landed by our energy and environment practice, reflecting Madano’s desire to support companies who are shaping the future. Ceres Power is a groundbreaking energy technology company whose purpose dovetails with one of the consultancy’s main objectives – to sustain a clean, green planet by ensuring there is clean energy available throughout the world.”
Phil Caldwell, CEO, Ceres Power, added: “The growth opportunities for our business in 2021 are clear. Many countries have placed decarbonisation at the centre of their plans for economic recovery after COVID-19, and we’ve seen significant investment in hydrogen and industrial decarbonisation announced in Germany, South Korea, Japan and the UK, to name a few. Our partnership with Madano will help us to raise awareness among key audiences of the role our SteelCell® technology can play in driving decarbonisation forward globally.”
Madano is committed to building a better world through intelligent and creative communications. We work with clients who are seeking to solve some of the world’s major challenges through science, technology and engineering, helping them tell their story, make the right connections, change attitudes and influence behaviours. Established in 2004, Madano is an AVENIR GLOBAL company.
*Story first published on PR Week.
Madano has won the Social Media Campaign of the Year Award at the PRCA Public Affairs Awards for its work on the Nuclear Industry Association’s ‘Rediscover Nuclear’ campaign.
The campaign reappraised the nuclear industry in light of its ability to create long–term employment, provide a low-carbon source of energy to complement renewables and deliver stable power from within the UK.
The PRCA described the win as an “incredible achievement in a super tough field”.
To see the campaign in action, please visit the NIA website.