A new working group is being created to help drive the production and use of green hydrogen in the North East.
David Lynch, Energy Innovation Partnership Manager at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) and Colin Brown, Country Manager (UK and Ireland) with green hydrogen specialists Lhyfe, explain the potential benefits green hydrogen can bring.
How can increasing the use of green hydrogen benefit the North East?
Colin: Green hydrogen is produced with zero emissions and is a renewable alternative to gas and fossil fuels. Businesses can use it to help decarbonise their operations and it has a huge number of potential uses, from buses, cars, haulage and maritime transport, through to domestic and industrial heating.
David: At a time when we all have net zero plans for our businesses, hydrogen can help us meet our goals, plug the limitations of electrification and it can also help attract businesses to the North East and create more and better jobs.
What’s the potential scale of the opportunity?
David: By 2050 hydrogen could account for 20% to 35% of UK final energy consumption, and the North East has the ingredients needed to make the most of this opportunity. We have deep sea ports where we can lead the way in the use of hydrogen in the maritime industry; we have a solid skills base originating from the oil and gas industry, which can pivot into green hydrogen; and we have the R&D capabilities, with some of the strongest universities in the world within a few miles’ of each other.
Colin: Exactly. We have industries here that can really benefit from green hydrogen, like the offshore renewable energy supply chain. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to decarbonise that supply chain using hydrogen?
If we look globally, hydrogen is really taking off in Europe. The UK – and the North East – has a really strong opportunity to stay at the front of the curve and the North East is not only a region with huge potential to use hydrogen to decarbonise, but it is home to people with an appetite to make things happen. That’s why, when Lhyfe expanded into the UK last year, we chose Newcastle as our UK headquarters.
What’s happened so far to drive the region’s adoption of green hydrogen?
Colin: There are already hydrogen trials happening in the North East like Hydeploy’s demonstration of how hydrogen can help power homes and communities in Winlaton, Gateshead, and Northern Gas Networks’ Hydrogen Homes project.
David: The next step is to move forward into delivery and that’s why we held a green hydrogen summit earlier this month. It meant we could explore what hydrogen can do for the full range of organisations and communities in the North East and look at the scale of the opportunity.
What happens next?
David: The green hydrogen steering group, Co-Chaired by me and Professor Sara Walker from Newcastle University, will drive delivery of green hydrogen projects. It’s about moving things forward with the input of the academic, public and private sectors.
Colin: Lhyfe is here in the North East and we’re ready to invest in the North East. We aim to create a new production facility to supply the region with green hydrogen and we’re working with the new steering group to embed it as part of the North East’s energy system.
To make green hydrogen a success for the North East we need to fully understand how we can use it to help decarbonise the region, see where the demand is, and make sure we build the right capacity to meet that demand.
What are the benefits to organisations of being involved at this stage?
David: Being part of the steering group gives a platform for businesses, local authorities and universities to help steer the development of hydrogen in the North East.
Colin: Increasing hydrogen production and use is a full-region project and we know from our work in Europe that, once people see the benefits of hydrogen, they want to be a part of it.
We’ve got an opportunity to work together and create something quite special which benefits us all. If we don’t work together, the use of hydrogen is going to increase anyway, but we won’t have maximised the opportunities for the North East.
Together, we need to grab this opportunity and drive it forward.