Growing Scotland’s hydrogen sector could provide the country with its “greatest industrial opportunity since oil and gas”, Energy Secretary Michael Matheson has insisted.

Mr Matheson insisted hydrogen – which can be used in fuel cells generating electricity or heat – could help Scotland meet its net zero targets.

There is also “significant export potential”, he added, with the Scottish Government’s recent paper on the economics of an independent Scotland having set out how this and other renewable energies could be “at the centre of the economy”.

The Scottish Government last year published its draft hydrogen action plan, setting out how to boost the sector, with the goal of having 5 gigawatts (GW) of installed production capacity by 2030 – rising to 25GW by 2045.

The Energy Secretary will this week travel to Brussels to promote Scottish hydrogen production during European Hydrogen Week.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Matheson said: “Hydrogen may be Scotland’s greatest industrial opportunity since oil and gas.

“It will play a key role in delivering net zero in industrial and heavy transport use and in the domestic economy, potentially heating our homes and buildings and there is significant export potential.”

He continued: “The recently published economy prospectus paper for an independent Scotland sets out how we would put renewable energies, such as hydrogen, at the centre of the economy.

“Scotland is an energy-rich country, becoming independent would give us the powers and levers to reform the energy market and ensure a stronger, more resilient supply with lower costs.

“European Hydrogen Week is an excellent opportunity to showcase everything Scotland has to offer and to work closely with our European friends and partners on the key issues we must collectively address to realise the full potential of hydrogen as part of the green energy transition.”