Emissions & Environment, Europe, Strategic Development

Net zero carbon emissions ‘impossible’ without hydrogen says UK energy alliance

The UK’s North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA) is calling for government investment in hydrogen projects to meet ambitious carbon reductions targets in Britain.

Earlier this year the UK government enshrined in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and Professor Joseph Howe, Chair of the NWHA, said: “The importance of hydrogen in reaching net zero carbon emissions can’t be underestimated.”

The North West of England is one of several clusters bidding for over £130m of government funding to establish the world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040.

The North West Energy & Hydrogen Cluster is a partnership of companies, regional leaders and academic experts and is home to HyNet, one of the country’s leading hydrogen and Carbon Capture Storage and Utilisation (CCUS) projects.

Members of the North West Hydrogen Alliance include Atkins/SNC-Lavalin, BOC, Cadent, Costain, Peel Environmental and Shell.

In a letter to Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom, the NWHA has pointed to the vital role of hydrogen within the Cluster and urged the new administration under Boris Johnson to emulate its predecessors’ commitment in the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to developing a hydrogen economy in the UK.

Professor Howe said that “some might say it’s impossible” to see how the UK would reach its net zero carbon targets without. “In the North West we’ve been working for years on developing a hydrogen economy that can be replicated across the UK. We’re lucky that we have all the elements you need – the industry, the infrastructure and the innovation that could make this a reality.

“Hydrogen has shot to the top of the agenda and is now widely recognised as a vital part of the energy mix. We have the private sector in the North West ready to invest and with Government support we can deliver something that’s transformational not only for the region but for the whole of the UK.”

The announcement comes as the NWHA expands its membership with engineering consultancy Otto Simon and Storengy as the newest partners to bring their expertise to the organisation.

Otto Simon is working on projects to utilise blended and pure hydrogen as a fuel source. Peter Creer, Technical Director at Otto Simon, said:“There are some really exciting hydrogen projects taking place right now in the North West. We’re not just talking about developing a hydrogen economy, we’re already doing it. We’ve got a long heritage in this region for innovation and we’ve the skills and technical expertise to deliver.”

Storengy is leading the country in developing modern salt cavern storage for hydrogen with plans to start building a hydrogen storage facility at its Stublach site in Cheshire by 2020. The company is also developing hydrogen electrolysis and transport projects working with a number of partners.

Duncan Yellen from Storengy said: “Hydrogen storage is an important part of the jigsaw, providing the flexibility to respond to energy demands and ensuring we make the most of our resources. We have unique geology in the North West with salt caverns able to store huge quantities of hydrogen. We’ve already been using them to store gas for years and we’re looking at how they could be repurposed and become part of the decarbonisation story.”
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The potential of hydrogen in Europe’s energy sector will be explored in detail by speakers at European Utility Week and POWERGEN Europe in Paris in November. Click here for details.