The concept of a hydrogen economy is not new to anyone involved or familiar with the energy sector. Until the 1970s, hydrogen was a well-established source of energy in the UK, making up 50% of gas used. For several reasons, the sector moved on, and a recent renewed interest into the advantages of hydrogen has put the gas at the forefront in the search for green energy.

Confidence behind the viability of hydrogen was confirmed last October when the government announced a £20m Hydrogen Supply programme that aims to lower the price of low carbon hydrogen to encourage its use in industry, power, buildings, and transport.

Hydrogen - the Fuel of the Future? Video: Real Engineering

‘In a way, hydrogen is more relevant than ever, because in the past hydrogen was linked with transportation,’ UCL fuel cell researcher Professor Dan Brett explained to The Engineer. ‘But now with the huge uptake of renewables and the need for grid-scale energy storage to stabilise the energy system, hydrogen can have a real role to play, and what’s interesting about that […] is that there’s a number of things you can do with it.

‘You can turn it back into electricity, you can put it into vehicles or you can do a power-to-gas arrangement where you pump it into the gas grid.’