Industry and hydrogen, use it or lose it

11th Mar 2024


Last week I mentioned being disappointed at the outcome of a recent APPG meeting in Westminster.

What I didn’t mention was one lobbyist from the All-Electric Cult who told the meeting that the UK ceramic industry didn’t need gas. Now several of us looked aghast at this assertion but before wading into a row, it is sometimes best to pause and check the facts first.

This week, Ceramics UK gave their response to one of our member meetings. Here are some snippets from their slide pack.

The UK ceramics industry has 17,500 direct employees; £1.6 billion of product sales, £600 million exported; 75 % are SMEs; they use 4.5TWh of natural gas a year, with gas providing 86% of their energy needs; they emit 1.25Mt of CO2e per annum and under environmental rules, 90% of their sites are classed as small or ultra small emitters. They are geographically spread across the UK, often based close to raw material supplies.

Phew, take that lot in for a moment and then think about the choices facing this industry.

Their industry has also identified a roadmap to decarbonisation. This includes 11% electrification; 14% efficiency measures; 15% CCS and the biggest single contributor to decarbonisation, hydrogen 36%.

Given what has just been laid out, how should we approach this?

In Winserworld, the Soviet-style ‘elites know best’ approach would see the forced re-location to industrial clusters, where hydrogen supply is restricted to. Not willing or able to re-locate, then this industry literally has no future unless …

Unless the government ignores the siren voices of the anti-gas network brigade, who use gas as a dirty word regardless of the consequences upon real people, their livelihoods and yes, the economic prosperity of the UK. It may not matter to them, that small specialist ceramic business tucked away on a side street in a northern town, but it should. And if we shy away from telling people how it is, then we shoulder some blame too. This industry, like so many others, needs a zero-carbon gas piped to them. The sooner this is accepted the better.

Mike Foster

EUA's Chief Executive


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