UK should hold steady to benefit from its global leadership on green energy says Mitsubishi chief

The UK can maintain its ambition to be the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’ and a green energy leader, despite recent setbacks, and the government should maintain momentum to take advantage of its position, says Dr Javier Cavada, chief executive and president of Mitsubishi Power.
Cavada said of the UK that “It is tier one in tier one” among green energy countries, despite recent setbacks like the failure of the most recent allocation round to bring forward new offshore wind projects. He said, “It is a mess like all the other countries, but this country has taken a leadership role. It is a real industrialised country with all the complexities, but this country is ahead. Other countries are looking to see what we do here.”
He agreed there was some disappointment, but said that should be set against the fact that “the ambition level is high”, adding “Five years ago [the UK set out] a clear strategy – to be the Saudi Arabia of wind – and that is exactly what this country can be. It can be the wind capital of the planet, because the UK has taken the first step forward and it has a huge wind asset”. The fact that the UK was still tier one, “tells you a lot about the others”. He compared the UK with Germany “where they are burning lignite to make EVs.”
Cavada urged the UK to maintain its course and provide the infrastructure that would enable it to deliver on green energy plans. In particular that meant expanding networks because “the amount of electrification we are going to be faced with in the UK will not be met at the current pace”.
He also urged the governmemt to continue laying the groundwork for new business models for hydrogen and carbon dioxide. “You cannot decarbonise everything, you need to capture CO2 emissions and you need to do something with that CO2,” he said, while for other purposes “you need to have a thermally intense molecule that you can transport” or use as an energy store and that was most likely to be hydrogen.
Hydrogen could be used as a replacement for fossil gas in power plants because “you don’t need to replace the asset, just change the combustion”. He said the technology was already there to make the change – but the hydrogen was not. “We already have the technology to burn 100% hydrogen. In the small scale up to 40MW we have already commercialised [hydrogen power plants] and the reason is that you can find enough hydrogen to feed them.” In contrast, a project under way at Saltend would see it blending up to 30% hydrogen with fossil gas. At Saltend “You could burn 100% hydrogen – but in an hour you will have used all the hydrogen available”. New business models had to bring forward hydrogen supply at a scale that would dwarf current supplies – and properly reward ‘green hydrogen’.
The same applies to ‘green ammonia’. He said, “Mitsubishi has technologies to burn ammonia for power generation to produce power – although it needs selective catalytic reduction to remove nitrous oxides – or to ‘crack’ it on site and use the hydrogen” when business models allowed.
Cavada said large developers were looking for new ways to package wind to supply energy intense molecules or flexibility alongside electricity. “They are looking at wind plus hydrogen, wind plus batteries, wind plus ammonia,” he said. “It has to come”. The UK’s huge wind asset could also gave it a head start in those industries.