A report commissioned by Peel Environmental has claimed that developing a hydrogen economy in the North West could unlock £1.6bn GVA by 2050 and create 2,300 jobs while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 10m tonnes per year.
The report follows a conceptual study by Cadent, which owns and operates the region’s gas network, which looked at the plausibility of developing a Liverpool-Manchester Hydrogen Cluster. Cadent concluded that not only is hydrogen adoption affordable, but as there is no direct impact on gas consumers, it will be more acceptable to the public than other solutions.
Peel, which owns the £700m Protos energy park near Ellesmere Port, a 134-acre strategic development site, commissioned Aqua Consultants to carry out the report, which examines how the use of hydrogen could help attain the targets set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act.
As hydrogen is not naturally occurring on Earth, it has to be created by one of various chemical processes. Aqua’s report looks at how a hydrogen production hub, including carbon capture storage and utilisation facilities in the east Irish Sea could feed large industrial users of energy and fuel a series of hydrogen vehicle refuelling stations across Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington.
Dr Tony Smith, commercial strategy manager at Peel Environmental, said: “The creation of a hydrogen economy would be a game-changer for the North West in so many ways. From de-carbonising our energy and contributing to climate change targets, to making substantial improvements to air quality, delivering a fully functional hydrogen industry would be transformational.
“This report shows there is a real opportunity to attract inward investment, create thousands of jobs and put the North West at the forefront of the UK’s hydrogen industry. Making it a reality will take collaboration, and we’re working alongside some of the biggest names in the energy-intensive industries to promote an exemplar and deliverable hydrogen project that responds directly to the government’s recently published Clean Growth Strategy.”
Hydrogen can be used to create energy and heat, and when used as a replacement for diesel or petrol in cars, its only by-product is water. With some repurposing of systems, hydrogen could be blended into the region’s existing gas network, Peel said.
Prof Joe Howe, executive director at the University of Chester’s Thornton Energy Research Institute, said: “This report represents another positive step in the commercialisation of these innovative technologies. It presents a strong, economically robust case, based on real evidence, for the use of hydrogen and its associated supply chain as a credible route to a low-carbon gas economy.”
Peel has this year driven Protos forward, with a launch event featuring Andrew Percy, at the time the Northern Powerhouse Minister, in February. In September, the scheme was included as a key part of the Energy Innovation District being promoted by Cheshire’s councils, LEPs and business, along with the University of Chester.
Aqua Consulting’s full report can be read here.