North West can lead the UK in developing hydrogen energy networks
The North West could be leading the way with the UK’s first hydrogen energy programme within the next five years.
That was the claim at a Westminister briefing which heard how HyNet – the North West-based hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) project – could see hydrogen blended into the gas grid and piped into homes and businesses by 2024.
HyNet, which is the most advanced CCUS project in the UK, says it will initially save one million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions every year, rising to 10 million tonnes per year, in a model which can be replicated across the UK, and beyond.
Hydrogen could be injected into the existing gas network across Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire and Warrington, helping to decarbonise homes and businesses. It would also see hydrogen supplied in new pipelines to major manufacturing and power generation sites reducing the carbon footprint of industry while safeguarding jobs and delivering clean growth.
The HyNet consortium is led by one of the North West Hydrogen Alliance’s (NWHA’s) newest members, Progressive Energy, with founding members Cadent and Peel Environmental also involved along with various other members.
Dave Parkin, director at Progressive Energy, said: “To achieve our national target of Net Zero emissions by 2050 it is essential that we develop a hydrogen economy in the UK.
“HyNet is a real project, with real partners undertaking real engineering which can start delivering CO2 savings within the next five years.”
He added: “Why are we in the North West? The region has unique geology, with salt caverns that can be re-purposed for hydrogen storage, and depleted gas fields in the Irish sea that can be used to store CO2. The region also has a strong industrial heritage and existing skilled workforce which make it the obvious choice.”
Ed Syson, chief safety and strategy officer, Cadent, said: HyNet is game-changing, achieving huge reductions on carbon emissions by 2024, just five years from now. It is a massive step in the UK’s journey to Net Zero.
“Keeping our homes warm using the similar appliances we use today, fuelling trains, buses, lorries and, potentially, even some cars, and powering industrial processes in a way that simply would not be achievable by relying on green electricity alone. To think otherwise, is just not realistic.
“We need a true energy mix to be sustainable – and to be realistic in opting for a future that takes advantage of multiple clean energy sources, like hydrogen, to get us to Net Zero.
“This hydrogen project is based in North West England and driven by North West political and industrial support that wants to see it happen. It ticks all the boxes.”
Prof Joseph Howe, chair of the NWHA and executive director of the Thornton Energy Institute at the University of Chester, said: “HyNet is a transformational project that will establish the North West as the leading region in hydrogen. We have the industry, infrastructure and innovation to make this a reality and we are ready to deliver.”
Mark Knowles, head of energy, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said: “We recognise not only the huge carbon reductions that the project would deliver, but the clean growth opportunity is massive in terms of job creation from safeguarding existing business and attracting new companies to the area.
“Our own projects also complement HyNet. By supporting hydrogen transport infrastructure we are effectively paving the way for more extensive roll-out of fuel cell vehicles which will deliver significant carbon benefits, but also improve local air quality.
“HyNet also presents an opportunity for our flagship Mersey Tidal barrage project, which can, in the future, supply green hydrogen to the pipeline network deployed for HyNet.”
HyNet was awarded a total of £1.6m in grant funding under UK Government Competitions for CCUS, Hydrogen Supply and Industrial Fuel Switching earlier this year to further develop the engineering solution for the project. The consortium is bidding for further funding to support the next stage of the project.
The partners involved in HyNet include Progressive Energy, Cadent, CF Fertilisers, Essar, Peel, Johnson Matthey, SNC Lavalin, Unilever, NSG Pilkington and the University of Chester.
HyNet is a key proposition underpinning the North West’s bid to become the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster. The North West Energy and Hydrogen Cluster is being led by the North West Business Leadership Team, with support from Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region Mayors
and the Cheshire & Warrington LEP.
The cluster could deliver 33,000 jobs, more than £4bn investment and save 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year.