Background and Aim
The Hydrogen Transport Economy for the North Sea Region (HyTrEc) worked with partners from the UK, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
The aim of the project was to work together on
- regional accessibility strategies
- environmentally responsible energy production practices
- developing different modes of transport
- transnational transport corridors
- efficient and effective logistics solutions
- sustainable growth solutions
Oil and gas technologies have dominated the energy/transport sector and enjoyed the benefits of scale effects, and of on-going technological improvement/optimization. In what is effectively a monopoly situation, it is difficult to develop less mature alternative technology solutions. This is particularly true of hydrogen technologies, which if used in association with fuel cells, could replace the conventional duo formed by hydrocarbons/combustion systems (engines, turbines, etc.) delivering significant economic and environmental benefits including a significant reduction in GHG emissions/pollution in urban areas and decreasing energy dependency on oil.
Governments (National/Regional/Local) across the North Sea Region have been separately developing strategies/plans and implementing initiatives designed to support R&TD and pilot/demonstrate the potential of hydrogen-based technologies. These efforts are largely disjointed and generally designed to support the development of indigenous (national) industry/sectors that can compete with other advanced economies (e.g. USA).
Across the North Sea Region there are significant national variations, not only as regards policy vis-a-vis support for indigenous industry, but also in how strategy/plans (at local, sub-regional/regional level) are developed to enable a transition from energy/transport systems dependent upon and with infrastructure geared to fossil fuels to a hydrogen based alternative and support regional accessibility. Strategy and policy commitments now vary significantly across the North Sea Region increasing the likelihood that significant disparities will emerge across the region as regards the development of internationally competitive, environmentally sustainable, energy and transport sector.
It is imperative that the North Sea Region marshal its efforts as an internationally competitive economic bloc, however, the absence of structures or platforms from which to share knowledge, experience and support the collaborative development of policy, strategy and plans is inhibiting development and is likely foster conditions in which largely dislocated and fragmented solutions are likely to emerge across the NSR. This is in stark contrast to, for example, the USA where the Department Of Energy is able to guide and shape the development (via stimulus packages and associated measures) of innovative, interoperable technologies and infrastructure on a national scale.