Edinbrugh. Credit: Robert V Ruggiero; Edinbrugh. Credit: Robert V Ruggiero;

Scottish Hydrogen Assessment Project, Scotland

How could hydrogen support the decarbonisation of Scotland?

The need to decarbonise heat, industry and transport is becoming more urgent. The Scottish Government has committed to achieving net zero by 2045 and we must move at pace to achieve a just transition.

Hydrogen has the potential to play a key role in enabling these targets and a decarbonised future, as a gas that can be low or zero carbon in production and emits no carbon at the point of use.

Arup supported the Scottish Government, Highland and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise to assess the role that hydrogen could play in decarbonising the Scottish energy system and creating a hydrogen economy. Scotland holds all the raw ingredients necessary to produce hydrogen, including green hydrogen, but there is a need to better understand how it can be produced, transported, and used safely and efficiently across Scotland whilst supporting economic growth.

Our work considers a number of scenarios for how a hydrogen economy could develop across Scotland and the scale at which it could be implemented across sectors. With our project partners E4Tech, an economic impact assessment was also undertaken to assess the economic value these scenarios might have to Scotland both in terms of gross value added (GVA) and job creation. The findings of our assessment were published in the Scottish Government's report.

Project Summary


3 scenarios to develop the Scottish hydrogen economy

£25bnpotential value to the Scottish economy

>300,000potential new jobs by 2045

The Hydrogen Assessment Project carried out in 2020 by Arup and partnered with E4Tech was our most comprehensive piece of work on hydrogen. The team provided a well-researched and professionally presented report which has proven to be a foundational part of our evidence base for the development of our policies on hydrogen and an important resource in informing the publication of our Hydrogen Policy Statement. ” Stuart Mckay Head of Hydrogen Policy, Scottish Government

The role of hydrogen

The assessment set out to clarify how and where hydrogen may fit into the Scottish energy and transport systems technically, geographically, and economically. After undertaking an initial literature review that considered the key social, technological, economic, and environmental factors that impact the production and supply of hydrogen, we carried out extensive stakeholder engagement across industries. This was at the heart of all our activities to ensure the final assessment outcomes were tangible and impactful for all – driving the Scottish hydrogen agenda.

Our team engaged with stakeholders in the public and private sectors to gather a range of thoughts and opinions on Scotland’s production, transportation, and end use of hydrogen. These viewpoints provided a detailed understanding of different visions for hydrogen, which fed into the design and development of a set of three viable scenarios exploring a range of possible roles for hydrogen up to 2045.

Demonstrating the opportunity for Scotland

The three scenarios helped explore how hydrogen could be produced, how it would be used, where it could be used and the ways in which it could be transported. This approach has enabled us to explore the different roles and the extent to which hydrogen can play in Scotland’s net zero economy. The distinct nature of the three scenarios enables the boundaries and potential future outcomes of hydrogen to be tested and explored to provide different pathways that will inform policy development and action taken at government level.

We developed a socio-economic assessment to quantify the benefits that could arise from each of the three scenarios and shared qualitative insights into the potential opportunities they could provide for wealth and job creation. In the most ambitious scenario set out, establishing Scotland as an exporter of green hydrogen to Europe has the potential to be worth up to £25bn a year to the Scottish economy, with more than 300,00 jobs created by 2045. This helped clarify the opportunity and capability within Scotland to use hydrogen to meet net zero ambitions whilst creating and protecting jobs that provide huge economic potential.

The assessment has helped demonstrate that targeted investment in hydrogen now, will help Scotland to realise a secure, flexible, cost effective and low carbon energy network, at the same time as supporting a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 downturn. ” Clare Lavelle Clare Lavelle Head of Energy Consultancy, Arup

Shaping the path to net zero

Our work is helping assist the Scottish Government and its agencies to shape the policy agenda for hydrogen in the next few decades as we progress to net zero. The outcomes of the assessment have been used to inform the Scottish Government Hydrogen Policy Statement. This sets out Scotland’s vision to become leaders in the production of reliable, competitive, and sustainable hydrogen to underpin the energy transition.

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