Burnham signs hydrogen fuel cell deal with Japanese giant

Greater Manchester partners welcome Panasonic at the MoU signing ceremony

Greater Manchester has signed an agreement to develop hydrogen fuel cell technology with Japanese  tech giant Panasonic.

The deal will see the deployment of its RE100 green hydrogen technology at sites across Greater Manchester, including hospitals, in what are set to be the first real use cases in the UK.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and Mitsutoshi Shigeta, Managing Executive Officer of Panasonic Corporation, Chief Green Transformation Officer (CGXO), signed the agreement on Monday (15 January).

They were joined by representatives from SSE Energy Solutions, Electricity North West, Manchester Metropolitan University and Carlton Power in signing the memorandum of understanding (MoU).

Through the new partnership, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will work with Panasonic and SSE Energy Solutions to identify potential trial sites and provide energy infrastructure and generation required.

Electricity North West, as the regional power network operator, will oversee the connection to the grid with enhancements and integration to the existing network, and Manchester Metropolitan University (Manchester Met) will contribute leading research and knowledge in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry. 

Carlton Power plans to provide green hydrogen from its Trafford scheme, which has been backed by the GMCA and was offered financial support from the UK Government in December 2023.

RE100 harnesses green hydrogen and fuel cells to supply 100 percent renewable electricity in industrial and public sector settings. The partnership, which is in place for five years, aims to strengthen research and innovation clusters by connecting people, ideas, and sectors, and to create jobs, attract investment, and drive growth – all of which will support Greater Manchester’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2038.

To mark the signing of the new partnership, a delegation from Panasonic and GMCA also visited Manchester Met’s world-leading Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, who visited Japan in December as part of a trade mission, said: “The partnership we’ve agreed today puts Greater Manchester at the forefront of ground breaking new technology to reduce carbon emissions. I’m excited for a future where our hospitals and businesses are powered through 100 percent renewable energy, making a positive difference to the city-region and the daily lives of Greater Manchester residents.

“Collaboration and innovation will be vital if we are to succeed in our ambition to be carbon neutral by 2038, and this partnership proves the benefits of our international approach to delivering net zero.

“Working with Panasonic and our other partners will also provide a strong foundation for more opportunities to bring green jobs, skills, and investment to Greater Manchester.”

Managing Executive Officer (CGXO) and Vice President/Energy Business, Electric Works Company of Panasonic Corporation, Mitsutoshi Shigeta, said: “I highly appreciate Greater Manchester’s strong willingness to collaborate with us on the projects that will help achieve decarbonisation by 2038. It is realised by the Greater Manchester delegation visiting our RE100 solution in Panasonic Kusatsu site (new energy solution using hydrogen fuel cells) in Japan last December, to see our decarbonisation efforts and understand our vision and initiative.

“We believe that we are able to make a wide range of contributions to Greater Manchester’s Carbon Neutral target in 2038 as a global company with the products and solutions that can contribute to decarbonisation and energy saving, beginning from hydrogen fuel cells.

“We will work closely with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and three companies and one research institution to accelerate this activity to deliver more concrete decarbonisation projects in Greater Manchester.”

Director of the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University, Amer Gaffar, who was also on the GM-Japan trade mission, said: “Manchester Met has supported the hydrogen opportunity for Greater Manchester for over a decade in line with the city regions ambition of becoming Net Zero by 2038.

“The MoU signed today has intensified the cooperation on hydrogen as an energy vector that will spur innovation and develop an international hydrogen market. As frontrunners in developing hydrogen technology, the new partnership will create opportunities for research and innovation together with ensuring the region benefits from sustainable and affordable hydrogen energy.”