To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to progress (1) the replacement of the UK’s nuclear reactors, and (2) action on hydrogen as an alternative low carbon fuel; what are their timelines for any such steps; and how might these timelines be accelerated.
29 April 2021
My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution included nuclear and hydrogen among the 10 priority areas of the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Programme. Low carbon hydrogen and nuclear could both play a key role in meeting our legally binding commitment to achieving net zero by 2050, with potential to help decarbonise vital UK industry sectors and provide flexible energy across heat, power and transport.
(1) The Government’s commitment to advancing large, small and advanced nuclear reactors was confirmed as part of the 10 Point Plan. Alongside entering negotiations in relation to Sizewell C and continuing to engage other nuclear developers on proposals for future projects, we have created a £385m Advanced Nuclear Fund to deploy Small Modular Reactors and an Advanced Modular Reactor demonstrator by the early 2030s. Some AMR designs suggest the production of hydrogen as an end-use, and all nuclear reactor technologies, current and future, have the potential to feed into the hydrogen market either by producing low carbon electricity or heat for increasingly efficient electrolysis production.
(2) The Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan confirmed our aim, working with industry, for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for use across the economy. As we progress towards this ambition, we would hope to see around 1GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2025.
The UK has expertise and assets to support both electrolytic (green) and Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) enabled (blue) hydrogen. Our twin track approach to enable both routes will drive cost effective supply volumes in the 2020s in line with our 2030 5GW ambition, whilst scaling up green hydrogen.
The ambition will be supported by a package of measures, including:
- The first ever UK Hydrogen Strategy set to be published in Q2 of this year which will set out the key steps needed in the 2020s to deliver our 5GW ambition and set the context for further scale up on the way to net zero.
- The £240m Net-Zero Hydrogen Fund (NZHF) confirmed out to 2025, intended to support both green and blue hydrogen production. We are engaging with industry on the design of the fund, and more details will be published alongside the strategy.
- Long term, sustainable business models and the revenue mechanism to support them, to stimulate private investment in new low carbon hydrogen projects. We will consult on our minded to position for business models alongside the strategy, with a view to finalising in 2022. We will also set out plans for the revenue mechanism this year.
Timelines are ambitious whilst allowing sufficient time for evidence-based policy decisions that will benefit taxpayers and consumers.