Britain can lead the world in transmuting water to fuel

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British companies are once again displaying the genius of discovery that has so often raised us above the ranks of nations. (I happen to be in the middle of Matt Ridley’s wonderful new book on innovation, and while it is too polite to work on the fact, it is impossible not to be struck by the number of inventions originating from this country.)In short, we have the opportunity not only to shake off our reliance on nasty diets, but to become world leaders in a technology that will dominate much of the century. The markets can see what’s coming. As masterful Ambrose Evans-Prichard explained in the business pages this week, investors are piling up around the world and ITM Power shares have risen 1,500%.

What else do you need? Only the slightest boost. The Center for Policy Studies put forward a perfectly sensible proposal, suggesting that the government develop a national hydrogen strategy to ensure adequate hydrogen infrastructure is in place – a plan backed by 55 MPs and 40 companies.

Rather than spending massive amounts of money set aside for clean energy on electric vehicles, ministers should aim for multiple supplies. The obvious starting point is buses, as the three UK-based bus manufacturers already produce hydrogen vehicles. Indeed, the Northern Irish manufacturer Wrightbus, which was under administration less than a year ago, is now marketing the first two-stage vehicles running on hydrogen in the world.

Over the past four months, we have spent almost unbelievable amounts of money in response to the epidemic, money that will never be recovered. Yet here is a rare case where public spending can truly be viewed as an investment – that is, an expenditure that will produce good returns over time. Hydrogen is the lifeblood of the energy policy philosopher: British companies have found an affordable way to transmute water into portable fuel. We are currently leading the world, but the world is catching up with us. Let’s not waste any more time.

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