Sunak Urged to Develop Hydrogen Plan to Spur U.K. Green Recovery

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak should devise a U.K. wide-strategy to develop the hydrogen industry and spur the creation of green jobs, four key union chiefs said.

Developing the fuel would be a “significant” step toward the country’s goal to decarbonize completely by 2050, while also creating high quality jobs and supporting growth nationwide, the heads of the Unison, Unite, Prospect and GMB unions said in a letter to the chancellor on Wednesday.

“It will support the decarbonization of heat and the generation of clean power,” they said. “It is also critical not only because it will enable energy to decarbonize, but also because it will enable transport and heavy industry to do so too, with the multiple benefits this will bring.”

Both Sunak and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have pledged to pursue a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, though they are yet to detail measures they might take. Sunak has said his priority is to protect jobs after an economic lockdown that has seen the state take on paying the wages of more than 11 million private sector workers.

The U.K. chancellor made no mention of developing the hydrogen in his budget speech in March, but his Conservative Party’s manifesto promised support for the industry, and wider budget documents mentioned it as a potential source of “reliable low-carbon power.”

Germany’s coronavirus recovery plan may provide a template for U.K. ministers. Its program envisions investing 9 billion euros ($10 billion) through 2040 to build 15 gigawatts of clean hydrogen capacity.

The letter from the unions on Wednesday adds to a burgeoning “Hydrogen Strategy Now” campaign spearheaded by industrial giants including Alstom, Bosch, EDF and Siemens. The companies say they stand ready to invest a combined 1.5 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) in hydrogen projects.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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