North West Hydrogen Alliance calls for urgent UK hydrogen strategy as membership grows

The North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA) is calling for the urgent creation of a UK Hydrogen Strategy to co-ordinate the development and funding of hydrogen projects across the country as part of the post-Covid economic recovery and levelling up agenda.

In a letter to the Hydrogen Advisory Council, which was launched by the Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy last month, the NWHA has set out four priorities for the strategy.

  • A clear investment framework for hydrogen production, distribution, storage and fuel switching, which includes financial incentives and a resourced, robust and consistent regulatory framework.
  • Further funding into commercial scale demonstration projects for hydrogen use in all sectors including domestic, transport, power and industrial, which will build consumer confidence and show that hydrogen is deliverable, affordable and a crucial part of the response to climate change.
  • Development of a world leading hydrogen sector supply chain to support the hydrogen economy in the UK so it becomes an export powerhouse.
  • Development of a comprehensive and coordinated skills roadmap which dovetails with a National Workforce Plan focused on clean growth, to ensure the UK does not lose this multi-billion-pound hydrogen opportunity and import skills from elsewhere.

The NWHA – which represents some of the most influential private, public and academic organisations driving forward a hydrogen economy – argues that without this the UK will lose its competitive advantage.

Professor Joseph Howe, Chair of the NWHA and Executive Director of the Thornton Energy Research Institute, University of Chester, said: “We urgently need to develop a hydrogen strategy for the UK. Without it we risk falling behind other countries across the world, such as Japan and Germany, who’ve already got national roadmaps for hydrogen in place.

“This is a multi-billion-pound opportunity which could sit at the heart of our post Covid-19 green recovery plan, creating thousands of new jobs, and safe-guarding thousands more. But we need Government intervention. Without the right regulatory and investment framework, and investment into commercial scale hydrogen projects, we risk this form of clean energy being too expensive and our major industrial companies looking to manufacture elsewhere.

“We have the chance to develop a world leading hydrogen economy in the North West, driving regional growth and contributing to the Government’s levelling up agenda. We have all the elements to deliver – thriving industry, an existing skilled workforce, city regions that collaborate, as well as natural and industrial assets.”

The call comes as the NWHA expands its powerful partnership of organisations to include new members Penspen and Orbital Gas. Penspen is an international company which provides services across the entire project lifecycle to help clients develop new energy assets and optimise existing assets, from wellhead to storage and distribution.

Orbital Gas is a leading technology, engineering and support provider to renewable gas integration and innovation projects, having been involved in the UK’s first pilot biomethane injection plant and the first commercial biomethane injection facility. Orbital is also advising on engineering solutions to the HyDeploy project which is exploring the blending of hydrogen with the existing gas network at Keele University, as well as a number of live initiatives, projects and standards related to hydrogen.

The NWHA is driving forward the development of the region as the UK’s primary hydrogen economy. This hydrogen roll-out will be a critical part of the region’s bid to become the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster by 2030, which could deliver 33,000 jobs, over £4bn investment and save 10 million tonnes of carbon per year. The North West includes the country’s leading Hydrogen and CCS project, HyNet which was awarded £13m earlier this year from Government to fund two world-first hydrogen projects.

Partners already in the Alliance include Atkins, BOC, Cadent, Costain, INOVYN, Peel L&P Environmental, Progressive Energy, Otto Simon, Shell, Storengy UK, Mott MacDonald, Thyson Technology, Halton Borough Council and the University of Chester.