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17 May 2021

Regulation & Licence Highway - Key milestones in UK hydrogen projects


Everyone involved in the design and implementation of hydrogen projects is eagerly awaiting the UK Government's Hydrogen Strategy, revealed in the 2020 Energy White Paper for publication in “early 2021”. Meanwhile, an increasing number of hydrogen projects are already progressing towards final investment decisions with some commencing construction. There is currently no comprehensive regulatory framework for production, transportation and storage of hydrogen, leaving stakeholders facing a patchwork of rules and policies – including the Gas Act 1986 and other regulatory regimes - that were enacted before the emergence of hydrogen as a realistic fuel source and as a result, needs imaginative adaptation to meet the needs of this technology. 

Against this less than ideal background, this article provides a quick-reference guide for hydrogen developers, public and private funders and off-takers, setting out a timeline for progressing a UK hydrogen project in the meantime. This identifies the key regulatory milestones in the currently fragmented legislative field, focusing on England and Wales (some of the regimes and responsible authorities differ in Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are also some, more minor, differences between England and Wales). At each stage we identify the main regulatory and licencing requirements that parties will have to navigate and the main bodies you will have to deal with.  We also outline what regulatory reforms the Hydrogen Strategy might announce.

In this article, we are delighted to be working in conjunction with Gordon Nardell QC from Twenty Essex. Gordon specialises in energy, infrastructure and utilities disputes. Twenty Essex is one of the leading commercial barristers’ chambers in England and we thank Gordon for his time and invaluable insight preparing this piece. 

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