Developers of hydrogen production facilities including electrolysers should consider whether to apply to the Secretary of State for authorisation for the facility to proceed via the Planning Act process and avail themselves of the benefits of that regime alongside this clear policy support and established urgent need at a national level.
Benefits of the Planning Act process also include the ability to wrap up certain other consents and obtain compulsory acquisition powers over land. All of these can be particularly helpful when trying to promote an emerging technology such as low carbon hydrogen, de-risking core aspects of project delivery.
If the government is serious about low carbon hydrogen and does not want to rely solely on hydrogen produced from natural gas, then a ramp up of renewables is essential to power hydrogen production plus meet electrification needs. The UK needs a consistent surplus of renewables and dedicated renewable to hydrogen supply to ensure power is available for electrolysis, and to give confidence to hydrogen producers. Government support for offshore wind and for solar is very clear but we need those projects to be delivered urgently to power the green hydrogen market.
Another key constraint for emerging technologies is funding, and the draft revised national policy statement recognises that the UK government is consulting on hydrogen business models. Coupled with the urgent need established by EN-1, we would expect clarity on funding and business models to drive substantial deployment of low carbon hydrogen in the 2020s.
Nuclear energy is expressly stated as being within the scope of the revised EN-1, and, like with low carbon hydrogen, the need for nuclear generation capacity is described as being urgent. This is essentially the same position as under the existing EN-1, save that in 2011, when that policy was designated, a separate nuclear-specific NPS (EN-6) was published alongside EN-1 to provide enhanced support for, and to set out additional requirements which applied to, applications for nuclear generating stations at specific locations identified in EN-6.
The UK government has not at this point published a revised EN-6 for consultation but has committed to developing and publishing a new technology-specific national policy statement for nuclear energy generation.