THP-E316: What Can We Learn From Ireland’s Hydrogen Roadmap And The Struggles They Face?

Paul Rodden • Season: 2024 • Episode: 316

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Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!

In episode 316, Ireland is looking to build out their hydrogen economy and the roadblocks they’re facing reveal the same issues felt around the world. So what is Ireland doing to navigate through the hydrogen transition? And could the questions they’re asking help others facing the same hurdles? I’ll go over all of this and give my thoughts on today’s hydrogen podcast.

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Paul Rodden



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Ireland is looking to build out their hydrogen economy and the roadblocks they’re facing reveal the same issues felt around the world. So what is Ireland doing to navigate through the hydrogen transition? And could the questions they’re asking help others facing the same hurdles? I’ll go over all of this and give my thoughts on today’s hydrogen podcast. So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where is capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters who recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen, and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden, and welcome to the hydrogen podcast. In an article in the Irish Examiner Cáit Caden writes Skills shortage is holding back Ireland’s green hydrogen strategy. Hydrogen is likely to become a hot topic on the political agenda this year as an election looms and bets increase that it will take place before the March 2025 deadline. Business representative groups Ibec in the Republic and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in the North jointly published a report found that there should be an “all island approach” to the development of green energy, including hydrogen, to instil confidence in investors. The report, published in February, also highlighted the need for a “speedy roll out of critical energy infrastructure” including hydrogen electrolysers as well as offshore and onshore wind farms, solar PV farms and energy storage facilities to achieve Net Zero targets. However, in both the North and in the Republic, developers face immense difficulties in delivering projects on time. The reasons for these delays include cumbersome planning processes, regulatory uncertainty, a lack of resources in key agencies, and lengthy judicial review challenges. The report suggested that collaboration could be “helpful in unlocking the full potential” of bioenergy, hydrogen, and the circular economy, especially when it comes to decarbonising “hard-to-mitigate sectors” like road freight and shipping and aviation which are essential for the an island economy to thrive in. Hydrogen can be used to power heating appliances and energy generators which can be used for heavy machinery and haulage systems. Infrastructure and gird capacity are at the forefront for investment to get the green energy sector off the ground, however, founding member of Hydrogen Ireland Paul McCormack said investing in skills and people should also be a priority. According to Mr. McCormack, If we look across all of Irish industry, public and private, there’s a shortage of people. He says, Where are the scholars that will place Ireland ahead of the hydrogen curve and maintain that? Mr McCormack added that there’s an opportunity to “pivot the economy” in this regard and retrain people who have worked in fossil fuel businesses, saying We have people involved in older energy sectors, and we can transition those. In addition, the need for more skilled staff on the ground developing hydrogen projects. Mr. McCormack also said more bodies are needed in to solely focus on green energy policy at government level, saying the government at the minute are trying to keep all the plates spinning with the staff that they have. Mr McCormack said the Republic “needs an energy minister that’s going to maintain Ireland’s position in Europe’s renewable energy sector” while also making the country more attractive to become a destination for development. He described the Government’s hydrogen plan as “cautious” and “measured” but he added that he would like to see it “accelerated in certain areas” but at a reasonable pace to prevent “shocks”. “If we look at our dependence on fossil fuels, it’s not going to change overnight, it has to be a transition. And that transition has to managed very carefully to ensure the shocks to the system are minimised and the advantages delivered are maximised,” said Mr McCormack. “We don’t want to go down a route where we end up with greater fuel poverty in the winter by driving up the prices of scarce fuel sources,” he said. For this transition to happen though, Mr McCormack echoed calls from Ibec and the CBI for policymakers to create an environment that is attractive to investors. He urged the Irish Government to become a “lighthouse” of sorts to provide clear guidance and strategy for developers and investors in the green hydrogen space. Slow and uncertain development across the renewable energy sector “doesn’t allow for investors to have confidence in the market growth,” said Mr McCormack. “Clean energy is a high-risk investment but clean energy without strategy is a no-go area for venture capitalists,” he added. Hydrogen has been hailed as a vital cog in the fledgeling renewable energy machine though the creation of fuel cells which are increasingly being used by energy storage systems, but it remains a controversial topic for some green energy enthusiasts. In 2022, less than 0.1% of global hydrogen, or 0.087 million of 95 million tonnes was produced this way, according to the Corporate Europe Observatory which obtained figures from the International Energy Agency. However, it can also be produced using fossil fuels like methane gas. Global hydrogen use is increasing, but demand remains so far concentrated in traditional uses in refining and the chemical industry and mostly met by hydrogen produced from unabated fossil fuels, according to a report published by the International Energy Agency last year. In addition to the green process of extracting hydrogen, there are other process labelled as black, brown and grey. Grey hydrogen is the most common form and is generated from natural gas, or methane, through a process called “steam reforming”, according to the World Economic Forum. This process generates just a smaller amount of emissions than black or brown hydrogen, which uses black (bituminous) or brown (lignite) coal in the hydrogen-making process. Black or brown hydrogen is the most environmentally damaging as both the CO2 and carbon monoxide generated during the process are not recaptured. There is also the contentious blue method. Hydrogen is labelled blue whenever the carbon generated from steam reforming is captured and stored underground through industrial carbon capture and storage (CSS). Blue hydrogen is, therefore, sometimes referred to as carbon neutral as the emissions are not dispersed in the atmosphere. However, some argue that “low carbon” would be a more accurate description, as 10-20% of the generated carbon cannot be captured. Mr McCormack compared green hydrogen to the “energy equivalent of the Swiss Army Knife” in a report, which he published with Prof. John Barry, titled ‘Green Hydrogen Futures’. “By developing a robust hydrogen infrastructure and leveraging domestic resources for hydrogen production, countries and sub-national regions can enhance their energy security and reduce vulnerability to price fluctuations or supply disruptions,” the report said. “The full realisation of the multiple, economic, social, employment, energy security and other benefits of any green hydrogen energy transition requires a state-led and coordinated, planned and science-based strategy,” it added. Meanwhile, the strategy around green hydrogen remains opaque in the Republic and has been hit with major delays. For example, progress of a green energy facility off the coast of Cork continues to be stubbornly slow. In July 2021, Cork firm EI-H2 and Texan-headquartered company Zenith Energy announced plans for a green energy facility on Whiddy Island, Bantry Bay, but nothing has come to fruition as 2030 target deadlines move closer. Okay, so an article on the trials and tribulations felt in Ireland that is being echoed in many regions worldwide. What exactly is the roadmap to build the hydrogen economy? What are the first steps what workforce is needed? What regulatory policies should be in place? How should the varying hydrogen technologies be viewed? IE? Should we look at colors without regard to economics and go no further? Or should we look at full cycle carbon intensity? And also, which of the technology options that are currently available are economically viable and will lower emissions now, and this article does a good job of addressing many of those issues. It would seem like Ireland is at least asking the right questions with Mr. McCormack regarding the use of hydrogen as a vital part of the energy transition with the transition part given weight and not treated like a light switch. That’s a very important piece of the puzzle that gets overlooked far too frequently. Also, it would seem that they are also considering the support infrastructure that needs to be in place for the hydrogen market to develop. This is something I’ve talked about quite a bit in recent weeks and for good reason. Without those industries, like fabricators, manufacturers and systems engineers, projects like the Whiddy facility mentioned in this article will continue to face delays. And a special note in this piece is the critical part that government plays. The US hydrogen market now knows all too well how incongruent policies can crash a fledgling economy before it has the chance to launch. This transition, as pointed out in this article can’t be rushed. The hydrogen economy is too important as global energy consumption is growing rapidly and shows no signs of slowing down. All right, that’s it for me, everyone. If you have a second, I would really appreciate it. If you could leave a good review on whatever platform it is that you listen to Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google, YouTube, whatever it is, that would be a tremendous help to the show. And as always, if you ever have any feedback, you’re welcome to email me directly at So until next time, keep your eyes up and honor one another. Hey, this is Paul. I hope you liked this podcast. If you did and want to hear more. I’d appreciate it if you would either subscribe to this channel on YouTube, or connect with your favorite platform through my website at Thanks for listening. I very much appreciate it. Have a great day.