FOI reference: FOI/18/00041
Date received: 8 January 2018
Date responded: 5 February 2018
Documentation/Email correspondence detailing research into the feasibility of the potential of decarbonising the gas network using hydrogen, in Scotland, and
Documentation/Email correspondence detailing the cost implications of decarbonising the gas network using hydrogen.
As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.
In response to you request I enclose 5 documents.
This covering letter also provides contextual information we believe to be useful in considering the information presented within the Scottish Energy Strategy.
In addition to the documents attached, there are a number of published reports that were used in the development of the Scottish Energy Strategy which we consider to be relevant to your request. Most of the documentation used in formulating the Scottish Energy Strategy in relation to the feasibility and cost implications of decarbonising the gas network using hydrogen is drawn from publicly available sources. The majority of these reports relate to research that is location-neutral or at a national (UK) scale, rather than analysis which is specific to Scotland. Below is a list of these reports and where they may be sourced from. Under section 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
- Clean Growth Strategy (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy):
- The Transition to Low-Carbon Heat (Energy Research Partnership):
- Future Gas Series: Part 1 – Next Steps for the Gas Grid (Policy Connect):
- 2050 Energy Scenarios – The UK Gas Networks role in a 2050 whole energy system (KPMG):
- Future Energy Scenarios 2017 (National Grid):
- Future of Gas – Progress Report 2017 (National Grid)
- Hydrogen and Fuel Cells: Opportunities for Growth – A Roadmap for the UK. (E4Tech)
- Hydrogen with CCS for decarbonised heat in the Scottish context (ClimatexChange)
- Hydrogen Modelling in Scottish TIMES – Advisory Report (Imperial College London)
In order to develop our Strategy, we developed two indicative scenarios for the energy system, consistent with our current climate change targets. One of these indicative scenarios considers the potential role of hydrogen gas in decarbonising Scotland's gas network. This scenario, along with its accompanying 2050 'electric future' scenario, is designed to help those with an interest in Scotland's energy system understand what infrastructure, technology and consumer behaviour might be required under different energy futures, and to generate discussion about how the future energy system could potentially look.
As noted in the Strategy, given then inherent uncertainties in forecasting Scotland's energy system in 2050, the cost implications of decarbonising the gas network using hydrogen has not been a component of our preparation of the Strategy. The Strategy does, however, recognise that these scenarios would represent radical changes to Scotland's energy system, and would require sustained investment. Thepace of technological change, and advances in engineering and information technology across the economy and the energy sector over the next three decades, will have a huge bearing on feasibility and cost implications of such a major system change. It is therefore extremely challenging to predict such changes.
The publicly available reports, noted above, make attempts to begin to address these uncertainties but further work is required. We will therefore continue to build our evidence base on the most feasible solutions for decarbonising our gas network, and on how to do so in an economic manner that protects and engages with consumers. To this end we have supported several projects which demonstrate how hydrogen can be renewably produced, stored, and used when needed for local energy and transport. We remain committed to supporting further research and development in this area, including proposals by SGN to assess the viability of constructing and operating the first hydrogen distribution network in Scotland.
We also make clear in the Energy Strategy the role of UK Government policy in the future of the gas network. While heat regulation is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, many of the issues which affect the heat market, such as the gas network, electricity and oil, are reserved. Our longer-term approach to decarbonising heat will therefore depend on UK Government decisions on the future of the gas network.
We know that the UK Government has now commissioned work on the long-term direction of heat decarbonisation. This will help to determine the most appropriate mix of solutions, such as district heating, electrification of heat with heat pumps, and gas network decarbonisation.
We will continue to work closely with the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, urging them to carefully consider Scottish circumstances and the aims of this Strategy as they take decisions on the future of the gas network, and the overall mix of heat decarbonisation in reserved areas.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses
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Central Enquiry Unit
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The Scottish Government
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