BLOG – Could 2019 be the year for hydrogen?

Could 2019 be the year for hydrogen?

With hydrogen firmly on the Government’s clean growth agenda, 2019 is set to be a transformational year for this low carbon fuel. Chair of the North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA) Professor Joe Howe takes a look ahead at how the region could benefit from this energy revolution.

The North West Hydrogen Alliance was established with a clear aim – to demonstrate how the region can take advantage of the huge opportunity hydrogen energy represents. Bringing together industry leaders Atkins, BOC, Cadent, Costain, Peel Environmental, INOVYN, Shell and the University of Chester it aims to put the North West at the forefront of the UK’s hydrogen journey.

Hydrogen could be a lynchpin for growth, boosting the North West’s economy and becoming a magnet for inward investment. Studies show the development of a major hydrogen cluster could deliver £17 billion in Gross Value Added for the North West, creating nearly 6000 jobs.

2019 could be a pivotal year for the development of the hydrogen economy with the North West set to play a key part.  Cadent’s HyNet programme, based on the production of hydrogen from natural gas, is a ‘first of its kind’. This hydrogen could be used in industry, homes and transport across the North West. Carbon dioxide produced from this process, and from other industry in the region, would be captured and transported to soon to be depleted gas reservoirs in the East Irish sea for storage.

The North West offers the most practical and low cost scale option for CCUS in the UK; and it’s a vital part of the HyNet picture. A business consortium has submitted a bid for government funding to start early work on defining carbon capture and storage in the NW.  The UK Government CCUS Innovation fund is a £15million pot offering matched funding for innovative CCUS projects and research into CCUS technology. It is due to announce the successful bidders soon.

Cadent has also been given the green light for the first live trial of blended hydrogen and natural gas for domestic gas customers in the North of England through the HyDeploy programme. If successful, the trials would build support for a much wider roll out including via HyNet.

Project Centurion has received Government funding to advance a possible 100MW power-to-gas energy storage project at the INOVYN Runcorn site, which already produces hydrogen as a co-product of the chlor-alkali process. Project partners ITM Power, INOVYN, Storengy, Cadent and Element Energy will be exploring how energy storage can produce low carbon hydrogen for heat, decarbonisation of industry, and transport fuels as well as contributing towards energy security. Building on the work of the HyDeploy programme it will develop a full deployment plan for hydrogen blending on the gas network.

The Government has committed £20 million as part of the Clean Growth Strategy to investigate the development of low cost, low carbon hydrogen for industry, buildings and transport and help create hundreds of clean industry jobs. The Hydrogen Supply Competition will provide businesses with funding to develop hydrogen solutions so that the technology can become a competitive, clean energy supply of the future. With applications closing at the end of last year successful bidders are expected to be announced imminently.

The region has already been recognised by Government as a potential industrial cluster as part of its Industrial Clusters mission, which is set to ramp up in 2019. Partners are coming together in the region to put the best case forward to Government for why the Merseyside area should be leading the charge as a top location for global inward investment in low carbon products and technologies.

By positioning the North West as UK leader, the region will unlock significant investment in the development, design and engineering of hydrogen infrastructure. 2019 is set to be an exciting year for energy in the North West, so watch this space.