As hydrogen looks set to play a central role in the UK’s net zero policies, hydrogen experts Hydrogen East unveil their vision for a regional ‘first-of-its-kind’ hydrogen cluster centred on core electrolyser projects.
In particular, Norfolk and Suffolk could make a significant contribution in bringing clean hydrogen’s potential to the fore and support the Hydrogen Strategy laid out in the Energy Security Strategy earlier this year.
The East of England’s hydrogen capabilities have already been highlighted in Westminster, when Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, delivered a speech on the ‘The Future Hydrogen Economy’ as part of a summer debate, saying: “Whilst I understand the rationale behind the Government’s cluster-driven approach to the hydrogen economy, the regulatory framework must be sufficiently flexible to ensure that smaller scale projects in decentralised areas like the East of England are able to realise their full potential.
“In East Anglia we have a real opportunity to be a major producer, user and exporter of hydrogen. We have an abundance of resources, infrastructure—both on land and at sea—that can be readily retrofitted, and developers keen to step up to the plate, provided that the right policies are in place. That way, we can not only more readily realise our decarbonisation goals but create new and exciting jobs for local people.”
The region aspires to become the UK’s Clean Growth Region as originally outlined in the Local Industrial Strategy. Energy giants such as ScottishPower Renewables and Vattenfall have already received the go-ahead for projects in the offshore wind sector and new nuclear resources are being developed by EDF at Sizewell C.
Hydrogen East aims to lead the development of a clean hydrogen cluster in the East of England, with initial proposals for six ‘core’ electrolyser sites across Norfolk and Suffolk. This would pave the way for development and improved infrastructure which can be further scaled as demand for clean hydrogen grows.
Nigel Cornwall, Director for Hydrogen East, said: “Hydrogen is such a versatile element and, with the ability to be deployed across a variety of sectors, we should be looking to it as a powerful tool that can aid us in the transition to Net Zero.
“It should be considered as a complement to electrification and increased roll-out of renewable generation. Already, a number of demonstrator projects are on-going around the country testing hydrogen for heat, power and transport in regions such as Aberdeen and Teesside.
“Here in the east, we need to establish our hydrogen pathway in a way that aligns with its distinct characteristics, including pathways into nuclear power, offshore wind and major energy hubs like Bacton,” he concluded.
Andy Holyland, General Manager for Hydrogen East, added: “The East of England has always been a key contributor in delivering the nation’s energy requirements and the integration of hydrogen will only further bolster this position, providing energy flexibility and security.
“Through analysis of local assets and data and continued engagement with local stakeholders, a cluster could identify opportunities whereby concept designs illustrating viability can be produced.
“Supply and demand could be balanced and add real value. In addition, projects will be de-risked through the establishment of multi-stakeholder collaboration, engineering studies and demonstration projects. Cluster commitments and guidance would support further research, developing business models, raising investment and sourcing appropriate funding. Through the clean hydrogen cluster, the hydrogen economy could be scaled and grown over time to maximise potential and build bespoke energy networks.
Andy added: “Through the development of a hydrogen cluster, we can create touchpoints with a variety of different sectors, supply-chains, and organisation types, ensuring the East of England leads the way and doesn’t accept the prospect of being an adopter of second or third generation technology and assets.”
Hydrogen East is inviting businesses interested in joining a consortium to get in touch at hydrogeneast.uk.