Navigating the path to UK hydrogen power with standards

A new BSI committee will help to coordinate and align efforts between different groups invested in developing a hydrogen knowledge infrastructure. This will support the UK’s roadmap to 5GW of hydrogen power by 2030, and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Low-carbon fuel

Hydrogen is a low-carbon, clean fuel. When burnt, water is the main output, with no carbon dioxide and less nitrogen oxides (NOx) compared to natural gas. In fuel cells, hydrogen recombines with oxygen without creating any pollutants.

“Heavy” hydrogen is the fuel for fusion reactors, another clean, low-carbon energy source under development. All these uses for hydrogen will help to achieve a zero-carbon future.

To push innovation in hydrogen, the UK Government has a target of 5GW of clean hydrogen energy production by 2030. This could create 9,000 UK jobs, unlock £4bn of investment, and inform an even more ambitious hydrogen roll-out to 2050.

However, hydrogen does not exist freely and must be released from something else – usually the electrolysis of water or the cracking of natural gas in conjunction with CO2 capture and storage.

In addition, hydrogen’s properties are notably different from natural gases and the equipment used in every stage of its generation, distribution, storage and use has to be carefully considered.

Standards underpin infrastructure

From production to end-use, the development and updating of standards must be coordinated to underpin hydrogen production pathways and infrastructure. These standards will underpin safe production, containment and transportation practices, and then end-use in applications from heating to road transport to flight to maritime and enable the further development of hydrogen technology and innovation.

A recent BSI hydrogen workshop brought together more than 100 participants actively involved in hydrogen standardisation. They discussed the UK hydrogen strategy and roadmap to 2030 and how BSI, as the National Standards Body, can best support the UK’s hydrogen ambitions.

They concluded that there is a need for better alignment between the different technical committees and other groups involved in hydrogen standardisation.

Better alignment represents a significant opportunity to disseminate newly acquired hydrogen knowledge and experience, and coordinate standardisation efforts. This will accelerate both UK and global efforts to achieve flexible, low carbon energy and a zero carbon future.

The hydrogen opportunity

BSI already works with government and industry through the Hydrogen Advisory Council, the Hydrogen Heating Programme Technical Advisory Group (TAG), the ENA’s Gas Goes Green, and many other related bodies and forums.

BSI also leads on several innovative standardization projects relating to hydrogen. For example, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Hy4Heat programme, where BSI published PAS 4444, Hydrogen-fired gas appliances -Guide in support of Hy4Heat’s work package 3[i].

This publication is just one example of the many disparate elements that need to be catalogued and linked in order to develop comprehensive standards for hydrogen as an energy source.

BSI is now working to establish GSE/5, the proposed Hydrogen co-ordination committee, in the first quarter of 2022 to accelerate this work and help prepare sector-specific workshops over the coming year.

BSI is keen to take this opportunity to increase diversity on standards development and technical committees, and introduce new perspectives and thinking, further accelerating innovation.


To get involved or to find out about our upcoming events, please email