The Scottish Government has committed to achieving net zero by 2045, with the need to decarbonise heat, industry and transport is becoming more urgent. Hydrogen has the potential to play a key role in enabling a decarbonised future, as a gas that can be low or zero carbon in production and emits no carbon when being used. 

Arup supported the Scottish Government, Highland and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise to assess hydrogen’s role in decarbonising the Scottish energy system and creating a hydrogen economy. Scotland holds the raw ingredients necessary to produce hydrogen, including green hydrogen, but there is a need to better understand how to produce, transport, and use it safely and efficiently whilst supporting economic growth.

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

Hydrogen’s role

The assessment plans to clarify how and where hydrogen may technically, geographically, and economically fit into the Scottish energy and transport systems. After an initial literature review to consider the key social, technological, economic, and environmental factors that impact hydrogen’s supply and production, 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 thoughts and opinions on Scotland’s production, transportation, and end use of hydrogen. These views provided a detailed understanding of different hydrogen visions, feeding into the design and development of a set of three viable scenarios exploring a range of possible roles for hydrogen up to 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

An opportunity for Scotland

The three scenarios helped explore hydrogen’s production usage, transportation. This has enabled us to explore the extent to which hydrogen can play a role 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, providing different pathways to inform policy development and action taken at government level.

A socio-economic assessment was developed to quantify the benefits of each of the three scenarios and shared qualitative insights into the potential opportunities for wealth and job creation. In the most ambitious scenario, 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, creating more than 300,000 jobs 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.

Shaping a net zero path

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