Work starts on pioneering energy project


Work has started on a scheme which will eventually create a Hydrogen Innovation Centre in South Gloucestershire.

The work got under way after £1.7m in funding was secured from ministers to kickstart the project.

The new centre will be housed inside the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority-funded Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) building at the Bristol and Bath Science Park.

It will provide state-of-the-art hydrogen research and development facilities for firms.

The aims to help tackle the research challenges blocking the commercial use of green hydrogen, focusing on transforming industries that are difficult to decarbonise like transport, heating and steel which together make up about 90 per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions.

The funding means important first-step works to kit out the first floor of the IAAPS building – with new office and innovation space for hydrogen firms and scientists to work together, alongside two fully-equipped hydrogen testing labs – can get underway.

The centre will be the first of its kind in the region and will make the West of England one of the leading areas for hydrogen research nationally as firms carry out crucial research on how to use this zero-emission fuel to put rocket boosters under work to hit Net Zero – including here in the West.

The proposed national hydrogen research programme – UK-HyRES – to be based at the University of Bath, will be a major beneficiary of this initiative.

West of England Mayor Dan Norris said the centre would bring new jobs to the site which is expected to support between 250-300 jobs when fully up-and-running

Work has also begun on a new liquid and cryogenic hydrogen plant – announced last year as part of a separate £2.5m investment from the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority.

Norris said the latest investment would help in efforts to create one of the most modern hydrogen research and development facilities in the whole country.

He added: “Hydrogen is clean, powerful and there’s lots of it. That’s why I’m pleased to secure this bumper £1.7m cash injection to help make the West of England a leader when it comes to research in this zero-emission fuel.

“This is testament will put our region even more firmly on the map as a hydrogen leader, with the UK’s brightest and best hydrogen thinkers and companies all coming together under one roof to figure out how we unlock the take up of hydrogen across all our industries – so very vital in hitting our ambitious net-zero targets locally”.

Prof. Tim Mays, Director of UK-HyRES, said: “This major investment will provide infrastructure for world class research and innovation in low carbon hydrogen, working together with industry, business and civic partners.”

The project is predicted to bring tens of millions of pounds to the West as business invests in research and development with UK-HyRES and IAAPS.

Work to install the office space and two hydrogen labs is expected to be completed by Spring 2024.