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New alliance of industry leaders back North West as the UK’s primary hydrogen economy

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A powerful industry group has come together to highlight how the North West of England could make hydrogen energy a reality in the UK helping to bring down the region’s CO2 emissions and support clean growth.

The North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA) unites some of the UK’s most influential organisations who are driving forward work to position the region as the UK leader for hydrogen energy.

The founding members of the NWHA are Atkins, BOC, Cadent, Costain, Peel Environmental, Shell and the University of Chester. They contend that the North West has the industry, infrastructure and innovation to lead the UK’s hydrogen energy revolution, bringing with it huge benefits to the region in new jobs, skills and investment.

The North West and Alliance partners are leading the way in response to the Committee on Climate Change’s call for urgent on the ground action to show the potential for hydrogen. The Committee has recognised that “hydrogen can make an important contribution to long-term decarbonisation” if it is combined with other energy saving measures.

Tony Smith, Commercial Strategy Manager at Peel Environmental, said: “The North West of England is poised to be the primary region for the development of a decarbonised, hydrogen based energy market for the UK. It already features all the necessary components to develop a hydrogen economy – thriving industry, an existing skilled workforce, city regions that collaborate, as well as natural and industrial assets.”

Innovative ideas to advance clean energy build on the hydrogen production and use that has been happening in the region for many years, such as BOC’s hydrogen plant in St.Helens.  Powerhouse Energy is developing technologies to turn waste plastic into hydrogen and ITM Power, along with Cadent, is exploring the use cutting edge hydrogen production technology in the region.

The North West is also poised to deliver two exciting ‘first of their kind’ hydrogen energy projects. The first public network trials of hydrogen and blended gas are being planned for the North of England through Alliance partner Cadent’s HyDeploy project. Blended hydrogen (up to 20% vol.) and natural gas could be a straightforward way for customers to make carbon savings from their homes without any changes to their appliances or the way they use gas.  More ambitious plans have also been set out in Cadent’s HyNet North West project which plans to use hydrogen for significant CO2 emissions savings from industry, homes and transport. Phase 1 of HyNet is now underway which includes looking at how to re-purpose existing infrastructure in the region for hydrogen delivery, and exploring opportunities for hydrogen vehicles, including trains.

Professor Joseph Howe, Chair of the NWHA and Executive Director of the Thornton Energy Institute, said: “To meet climate change targets and reduce CO2 emissions we need to find ways of decarbonising our energy systems. Hydrogen can be used as a clean energy source to heat our homes and businesses and is changing the face of transport with fuel cell cars, commercial vehicles and trains.

“We’re seeing major leaps forward in the technology all over the world, but some of the leading research and development is taking place right here in the North West. Take Cadent’s HyNet and HyDeploy projects – flagship schemes to distribute hydrogen across the Manchester and Liverpool regions. They’ll bring with them a £17 billion economic boost, 5,000 jobs and over 1 million tonnes of CO2 savings every year. That’s just one project.”