Glassmaking innovators Pilkington join North West Hydrogen Alliance

Pilkington, one of the leading glass suppliers in the UK, is the latest company to join the North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA).

Last year Pilkington completed a world first trial at its Greengate site in St Helens, Merseyside, where hydrogen was successfully used to produce float (sheet) glass as part of the ‘HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching’ project.

Pilkington have a long history of innovation in glassmaking, having invented the Float Process, by which most of the world’s high quality glass is made. The recent trial demonstrated the role hydrogen can play in creating lower-carbon glass. Replacing natural gas with hydrogen, in part or eventually fully, could see the industry decarbonised, reducing emissions and building sustainability into the glass-making process.

Glass can play a key role in the UK’s sustainable future, with the material widely recyclable and circular economies already in place to minimise waste. But, as with other energy intensive high temperature manufacturing processes, innovation is needed to decarbonise the industry.

Neil Syder, Managing Director at Pilkington Glass said:

“While glass is a sustainable, infinitely recyclable material it requires intense heat to produce. Reducing CO2 emissions and maintaining the security of energy supply for our furnaces will remain fundamental to our continued business. Hydrogen offers a real solution to decarbonising the glass manufacturing process and the recent trials at our Greengate Works site in St Helens proved that it can be successfully used to fire up our furnaces. This world first shows how the North West is at the forefront of innovation in industrial decarbonisation. We’re delighted to be joining the North West Hydrogen Alliance and working alongside other partners to help the region transition to net zero.”  

Pilkington follow hot on the heels of Glass Futures who joined the NWHA last year and are developing a glassmaking Pilot Plant facility in St Helens to provide a Global Centre of Excellence for sustainable manufacture of glass.

Professor Joe Howe, Chair of the NWHA and Executive Director, Energy Research Institute at the University of Chester, said:

“It’s widely recognised that hydrogen will be central to reaching net zero and nowhere is this more true than in the North West. As recent reports have shown, hydrogen is essential to decarbonising the North West industrial cluster by 2040 and can provide a viable alternative to natural gas in manufacturing, particularly for sectors such as glass that require high temperatures. Pilkington are leading innovators in glass manufacturing and their work is helping to shine a spotlight on the role that hydrogen can play in helping our vital industries reach zero emissions. We welcome them to the Alliance and look forward to working with them to further develop a hydrogen economy in the region which can set the blueprint for the UK and beyond.”

The NWHA represents over 30 of the UK’s most influential organisations driving forward the development of a hydrogen economy. With a strong commitment to decarbonising industry and hitting net zero targets, the Alliance advances the case for delivery of a full-system hydrogen economy in the North West of England.

The North West recently published a roadmap to net zero for the region with hydrogen playing a central role in the region’s industrial decarbonisation strategy. You can view the report here.


For further information:

Rebecca Eatwell: / 07827 353113

About the North West Hydrogen Alliance

The North West Hydrogen Alliance brings together some of the UK’s most influential organisations driving forward the work to develop the region as the UK’s primary hydrogen economy. The region’s reputation as the industrial North – including the necessary industries, academia, innovation, skills and natural assets – means it is in pole position to grasp the opportunity of hydrogen use. For further information visit or follow @HydrogenNw

About Pilkington Glass

NSG Group (Nippon Sheet Glass Co Ltd and its group companies) is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of glass and glazing products for the architectural, automotive industry and technical glass sectors.

In the UK it manufactures a wide range of float, coated, rolled, laminated, fire-resistant and toughened glass products as well as its own range of high-performance insulating glass units. Glass is distributed direct to customers, either as stock or as bespoke processed products to meet their needs, either direct from St Helens or through its network of branches countrywide. The company is highly focused on quality and service, continually improving to deliver the benefits of the NSG Group’s technical ability and innovation to the end user.

Today, NSG Group has manufacturing operations around the world and sales in over 100 countries. In the fiscal year ending 31 March 2020, the Group reported revenue of JPY 556.2 billion (approximately euro 4.60 billion). Of this, 38 per cent was generated in Europe, 28 per cent in Asia including Japan and 27 per cent in Americas.