Media releases

What on earth is hydrogen?

10-06-2020
  • Abundant element could be vital in response to climate emergency but support for public’s “hydrogen literacy” must keep pace, says EI President
  • New EI Guide to Hydrogen provides information on the potential benefits, challenges and user experience in the home, for transport and in industry

A new resource designed to support everyday understanding about hydrogen has been published today, to address concerns that lack of awareness could be a barrier to its deployment in the low carbon energy system.

Energy Essentials: A Guide to Hydrogen is an evidence-based, peer-reviewed resource specifically aimed at those who are not expert in the field. It sets out what hydrogen is, how it is made, transported and used, what the experience would be like in the home, for transport and in industry, and what the future of hydrogen might be.

EI President Steve Holliday FREng FEI said:

“Our response to the climate emergency must put all low carbon solutions in the frame. Hydrogen has potential as a versatile enabler of decarbonisation across the economy and our way of life.

“Like the unfamiliar application of any technology, hydrogen will need to prove itself in terms of cost, safety and low carbon production, but it’s hard to imagine a net zero future without hydrogen in some form or other.

“That will mean change, and require a greater level of support to improve the hydrogen literacy of energy users themselves. This new guide has been produced by the Energy Institute as a contribution to that endeavour.”

It is estimated by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) that more than half (53%) of the emission reductions needed to reach net zero in the UK will come from behavioural or societal change in combination with low carbon technologies. But studies have raised concerns that the public’s level of awareness about hydrogen and its potential role is lagging behind other low carbon technologies and could pose a barrier to its deployment.

  • Research by Madano for the CCC in 2018 found just over half (51%) of survey respondents have never heard of hydrogen fuel boilers, the lowest awareness of all alternative low carbon heat technologies.
  • Research for the H21 project by Leeds Beckett University found 68% of customers are indifferent or undecided about conversion to hydrogen, largely because they don’t know enough about it, are unconvinced that it’s the right solution, or are simply not engaged with the topic.

The new guide is freely available at www.energy-inst.org/hydrogen both as an interactive web page and a print-friendly pdf. The EI intends to disseminate and promote it for use by industry stakeholders and directly to users and consumer organisations over the coming weeks and months.

Notes for editors

  1. For media enquiries, please contact Nick Turton on 020 7467 7103 or nturton@energyinst.org
  2. Energy Essentials: A Guide to Hydrogen is available as an interactive web page and as a print-friendly pdf.
  3. A free EI LIVE webinar, ‘Hydrogen: The user experience’, chaired by EI President Steve Holliday FREng FEI, marks publication of the new guide. It takes place on Wednesday 10 June, spaces are still available.
  4. The EI’s Energy In Conversation podcast has examined ‘The heat equation’, looking at the issues around decarbonising heat, including the merits and challenges of hydrogen.
  5. The EI is also engaged with its partners in the energy industry and more widely on collaborative projects to tackle scientific and technical challenges relating to hydrogen.
  6. Research on public awareness and understanding about hydrogen has been conducted by Madano for the Committee on Climate Change and by Leeds Beckett University for H21.
  7. The Energy Institute (EI) is the chartered professional membership body bringing together expertise for urgent global challenges.
    Our ambition is for energy to be better understood, managed and valued. We gather and share essential knowledge about energy, provide the skills that are helping us all use it more wisely, and develop the good practice needed to keep it safe and secure.
    We articulate the voice of energy experts, taking the know-how of around 20,000 members and 200 companies from 120 countries to the heart of the public debate.
    Professionals in energy have changed the world before and now they are changing it again. The EI exists to support them and anyone who wants to better understand or contribute to tackling these urgent global challenges.