North West hydrogen cluster ‘could boost regional economy by £1.6bn’

The creation of a North West hydrogen cluster could boost the regional economy by £1.6bn, create more than 2,300 peak jobs, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help improve the region’s air quality, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by land and property company Peel, outlines how delivery of a hydrogen network between Greater Manchester and Liverpool could significantly de-carbonise the region’s energy, usher in a new era of hydrogen-fueled vehicles and cut CO2 emissions by 10 million tonnes per year by 2050.

It could also improve air quality by reducing particulate matter and nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, produced by the region’s road vehicles, the report says.

Peel is collaborating with other firms in progression of the exemplar project – with the company’s Protos energy destination near Ellesmere Port a potential central hub for the cluster.

It comes shortly after the launch of the UK’s first Energy Innovation District in the North West, an area promoted by the Cheshire Energy Hub to stimulate future energy technology.

Release of the report follows details of a conceptual study by Cadent, the gas distribution network operator in the North West, to deliver a major hydrogen infrastructure project called the ‘Liverpool-Manchester Hydrogen Cluster’.

Dr. Tony Smith, of Peel Environmental, said: “The creation of a hydrogen economy would be game-changer for the North West in so many ways.  From de-carbonising our energy and contributing to climate change targets, to making substantial improvements to the region’s air quality, delivering a fully-functioning hydrogen industry would be transformational.

“This report shows there is real opportunity to attract inward investment, create thousands of jobs and put the North West at the forefront of the UK’s hydrogen industry.

“Making it a reality will take collaboration.  We’re working alongside some of the biggest names in the energy-intensive industries to promote an exemplar and deliverable hydrogen project, which responds directly to the Government’s recently-published Clean Growth Strategy.”

Hydrogen is a de-carbonised energy source which can be used to create electricity and heat.  When used as a replacement for fossil fuels in road vehicles, its only emission is water.  There is also the potential to blend hydrogen into the existing gas distribution network to reduce carbon emissions at the point of consumption.  Such combined application of hydrogen across the North could therefore reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help improve health and air quality, the report says.

Peel’s report, authored by independent experts Aqua Consultants, sets out how use of hydrogen could contribute to the targets identified in the 2008 Climate Change Act.  It also outlines how a North West hydrogen production hub in the North West, including Carbon Capture Storage and Utilisation facilities in the East Irish Sea, could feed large industrial users in the region.

It could support a network of hydrogen vehicle re-fuelling stations across Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington.