• New Cadent report confirms plan to introduce hydrogen to North West England’s gas network for domestic heat can also support growth of hydrogen as a low-carbon transport fuel
  • Potential for grid-scale storage of bulk hydrogen in salt caverns in Cheshire announced by INOVYN
  • North West Energy and Hydrogen Cluster could see 33,000 new jobs created and £4 billion invested
  • Highlights of major showcase event at The Heath Business and Technical Park, Runcorn (5 June), examples of the North West taking a UK and world-leading approach to hydrogen’s potential

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has today welcomed the findings of a major report which maps out the routes to hydrogen fuelled vehicles on our roads from 2026.

The report – ‘Network-supplied hydrogen unlocks low carbon transport opportunities’ – was launched today (5 June) by Cadent – the UK’s largest gas distribution network – at a major showcase event in Runcorn organised by Halton Borough Council.

Mr Rotheram commented: “This HyMotion report from Cadent is a valuable piece of evidence in our journey towards a hydrogen economy.  It shows how we can use network-delivered hydrogen across the North West to make fuel cell technology a viable option for HGVs, trains, buses and cars, alongside our other proposed technologies.

“If we are to meet our commitment to be a zero carbon city region by 2040, urgent action is needed to move to alternative fuel sources.  Hydrogen will play a key role in that process, and we, with our neighbours, are well-placed to lead the way in this emerging technology.

“We are 100% committed to supporting our city region’s growing low carbon energy sector, through wind, solar and our own Mersey Tidal Project, and hydrogen is likely to be a very important part of the energy mix, as we aim to become the UK’s renewable energy coast.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • Using Cadent’s network to deliver hydrogen, rather than tube trailers, massively reduces the cost and makes Fuel Cell Electric Cars available to the general public for around the same price as a Battery Electric Vehicle or a conventional diesel car.
  • Fuel Cell Electric cars can travel further than Battery Electric Vehicles and take the same time to refuel as a conventional petrol car.
  • Grid-supplied hydrogen is the most cost-effective way of supplying hydrogen transport fuel at the required volume – up to six times cheaper than if delivered by trailer and 70 per cent cheaper than electrolysis.
  • The concept of piggybacking on the larger hydrogen power and heat project – HyNet – to create options for low carbon transport, is viable.
  • A range of options – including Battery Electric Vehicles – is needed but an exclusive focus on BEVs will result in a shortfall in the required renewable electricity of at least 32%.

The report was presented and discussed at the event ‘Delivering the Hydrogen Economy’, to showcase several hydrogen projects that position the North West as pioneers in this technology.

Ed Syson, chief safety and strategy officer at Cadent, said: “We carried out this study because there is an obvious desire and enthusiasm in the North West to think big and take a lead in finding low-cost ways to cut emissions.  Industry and policy makers can now be assured that HyNet can deliver the bulk volume of hydrogen needed in the North West, via a pipeline network. Distributing it this way cuts the costs considerably and means hydrogen can complement electricity and advanced biofuels as an attractive option for future fuel.”

At the event INOVYN, a wholly owned subsidiary of INEOS, also announced plans for a study into the potential for grid-scale storage of bulk hydrogen in salt caverns in mid Cheshire. Large-scale, low-cost hydrogen storage is essential to the deployment of hydrogen into the gas grid. A facility in Cheshire could store approximately 2,000 tonnes of hydrogen at a much lower cost than above ground storage.

Dr Frank Rourke, UK Country Manager, INOVYN said: “Storage is a vital component of delivering a viable hydrogen energy system in the UK. Using the Cheshire salt caverns’ unique geology, we have the opportunity to develop a critical piece of national energy infrastructure at a huge cost reduction to above ground storage. The salt caverns have been used to safely store gas for decades and could now be repurposed as part of our green economy.”

The event presented a compelling case for the North West to receive the Government support required to deliver the UK’s first hydrogen economy. The North West Energy and Hydrogen Cluster – a partnership of companies, regional leaders and network of academic experts under the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) – has formed a historic collaboration to meet the challenge of becoming the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster by 2030.  Covering the traditional industrial powerhouses of the Liverpool and Manchester City Regions, as well as Cheshire and Warrington, the cluster could see at least 33,000 new jobs created and over £4 billion invested in the region.

Speaking on behalf of the cluster, Richard Carter, Chairman of the NWBLT and managing director UK and Ireland at BASF said: “This collaboration represents one of the most vibrant clusters in the UK with a wide range of energy intensive industry partners. This is a game-changing opportunity. We believe, with appropriate Government support, that this will result in the North West meeting the challenge of becoming the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster by 2030.”

With over 200 delegates including key Government officials, regional politicians and major industrial partners the event included presentations from significant businesses involved in the ambitious project including: Alstom, Cadent, BOC Gases, INOVYN, North West Hydrogen Alliance, Peel Environmental, ULEMCo and Costain.

On display at the event included a model of the Alstom ‘Breeze’ hydrogen train – due to be converted in Widnes and used across the UK – and various hydrogen vehicles including the Toyota Mirai; Hyundai Nexo; Renault Kangoo Van; Alexander Dennis Bus; and AA hydrogen refuelling van.