It’s apparent that, with some wibbles about intermittency, at least some of the promises of wind and solar power have come true. They are indeed price competitive with other forms of electricity generation. That also means that to a large extent the climate change problem is solved. Solar, especially, is going to continue to fall in price and once non-emittive methods of energy generation are clearly cheaper then all will naturally gravitate to their use.
There are those who insist that this is all a result of government planning. Which is odd. As the price reductions in solar power don’t seem to have changed over the period of said government planning. The – roughly you understand – 20% per annum decline in costs was the same in the 1980s, when only weird hippies had anything to do with it, as in the 90s, when planning had little to do with it, in the 00s when it had a lot, and now into the 2020s when the support has largely been withdrawn.
Something that plods along at the same rate regardless of government and planning cannot be said to have been hugely influenced by government and planning.
Which leads us to green hydrogen:
New subsidies loom as politicians try and set the stage for the industry to grow, and repeat their success with offshore wind, where guaranteed electricity prices have turned it into a major force, supplying 10pc of UK electricity.
“Blue hydrogen is currently more expensive than natural gas, so some government support will be necessary to encourage take up in industry,” says Simon Virley, head of energy at KPMG.
He adds: “With the right support, green hydrogen could be cheaper than blue hydrogen within a decade. The cost reductions required are very achievable and similar to those seen for solar, or offshore wind, over the past decade.”
The actual requirement here is that electricity for hydrolysis continue to get cheaper and cheaper. Which, given that intermittency issue and the price of solar, is going to happen. So, we don;t actually need government and the plans and the subsidies. It’s all already in hand.
So, let us not make the same mistake twice then. Green hydrogen is going to turn up when there are regular excesses of electricity which can be used to split water. That’s the necessary and sufficient precondition. We’re really pretty sure that’s going to happen without further intervention. We’re also really pretty sure that if it doesn’t happen then green hydrogen doesn’t work.
So, there’s no point in subsidising another generation of green “entrepreneurs” is there? We unnecessarily made Jeremy Leggett rich last time around, no need to do it again.