Net Zero by 2050: The Glass Industry’s Green Hydrogen Revolution

20 May 2024

  • The glass industry, heavily reliant on natural gas, must shift towards greener energy like green hydrogen and CCS to decarbonise production processes.
  • Companies like Essar Oil UK and Progressive Energy are leading the way in low-carbon hydrogen production, contributing to emissions reduction and job creation.
  • The injection of £120 million into the Giga fund in the Spring budget strategically supports the growth of the hydrogen and CCS industries, enhancing the green economy.
  • Successful transition to a hydrogen economy requires collaboration among stakeholders, and initiatives like Hydrogen Safe’s training programmes are vital for preparing the future of hydrogen.
  • The upcoming general election is critical for shaping policies that support sustainability, and it’s crucial for parties to advocate for upskilling, research, development, and a supportive regulatory environment to facilitate the transition to a Net Zero economy.

As the UK sets its sights on achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050, industries across the board are facing the imperative to innovate and adapt to more sustainable practices. Among these, the glass industry holds particular significance, given its widespread use in construction, packaging, transport and various manufacturing processes. However, to truly contribute to the UK’s Net Zero ambitions, the glass industry must undergo a fundamental transformation. With the upcoming general election looming, the political landscape adds another layer of urgency and opportunity to this discussion.

Transitioning to cleaner energy sources

Currently, the glass industry relies heavily on natural gas, and globally contributes around 95 million tonnes of CO2e emissions per year. Transitioning to cleaner and greener energy sources, such as green hydrogen and CCS, is essential to decarbonising the production process. Industry trailblazers such as Essar Oil UK and Progressive Energy, who form part of the North West HyNet cluster from their joint venture Vertex Hydrogen, are forging the pathway for low carbon hydrogen production, storage and distribution. Their Vertex Hydrogen production plant will be saving 600, 000 tonnes of CO2e emissions per year and the energy produced will be used by local manufacturers, such as glass container manufacturer and filler Encirc in their furnaces. 

Connecting the supply between industry and educators

This new and innovative expansion of infrastructure in the region will enable the creation of at least 200 jobs, and contribute significantly to the decarbonisation of the Liverpool region. In addition, the recent announcement by the Government of a further £120 million injection into the Green Industries Growth Accelerator (Giga) fund in the Spring budget strategically supports the enhanced growth of the hydrogen and CSS industries along with their supply chain. The bright prospects of the green economy in the North West region will receive an added boost through educational and training initiatives aimed at preparing for the future of hydrogen.  As evidenced by the HyNet initiative, successful transition to a hydrogen economy requires collaboration among stakeholders. Hydrogen Safe, as industry leaders in training and education for the hydrogen sector, provide Ofqual registered hydrogen safety courses and engage in collaborative efforts with businesses, colleges, educators, and the local community to enhance the skills pool, ensuring the resilience of the future workforce.

Political implications and policy recommendations

From a political standpoint, the upcoming general election provides a critical juncture for shaping policies that support and incentivise the transformation of the glass industry. Parties must put forward their intentions on how they will drive sustainability across all sectors, with specific attention to industries with significant environmental footprints like glass and ceramics manufacturing. It is crucial for parties to clearly demonstrate ongoing support for financial incentives, like the Giga fund or the Hydrogen Allocation Round 2 (HAR2), to encourage investment in green energy technologies. This support helps to mitigate risks for private investors and purchasers, fostering collaboration and partnership among stakeholders to future-proof our labour market. 

What we cannot ignore is that the Government’s role in facilitating the transition to a Net Zero economy cannot be overstated. We need policies that will:

  • Advocate on the creation of pathways to upskill our labour force 
  • Support research and development into sustainable energy materials and processes
  • Create a supportive regulatory environment for businesses to adopt greener practices 

The decisions made by the incoming Government will not only shape the future of the glass industry but also contribute significantly to the UK’s overall progress towards a cleaner, greener future.

For more information on HydrogenSafe, visit our website here.

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