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    UK Alliance Seeks Hydrogen Funding


The northwest of England has all that is needed for testing hydrogen – including a major feedstock – except the money.

by: William Powell

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UK Alliance Seeks Hydrogen Funding

The North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA) says that the government's 'net zero carbon by 2050' goal needs  public funding in hydrogen projects, as it announced August 15 two new members have joined it. The NWHA is concerned that the new government will drop the baton of Theresa May's government which set the ambitious target in its closing days.

It wrote to the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Andrea Leadsom to say that "with appropriate government support we believe that the North West can meet the challenge of becoming the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster by 2030, with hydrogen a vital part of the picture."

The northwest of England is one of a number of clusters bidding for over £130mn ($157mn) of jovernment funding to establish the world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040. It comprises a partnership of companies now including the French gas storage operator Storengy and engineering consultancy Otto Simon. It is also home to HyNet, one of the country’s hydrogen and carbon capture storage and Use (CCUS) projects.

The chair of the NWHA, who is also executive director of the Thornton Energy Institute, Professor Joseph Howe, said that without hydrogen, net zero carbon is probably unachievable. Fortunately, the northwest has all the elements needed – the industry, the infrastructure and the innovation – to could make this a reality.

He said that with government support, the NHWA "can deliver something that’s transformational not only for the region but for the whole of the UK.”

The statement and the letter to Leadsom did not mention it, but the northwest is also home to the Bowland shale, a giant shale gas province that could supply the methane that will be needed for hydrogen extraction. So far, the commerciality of gas production has not been published by the operator Cuadrilla, but the hydraulic fracturing is continuing this autumn and a licence extension has been requested.

Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said earlier this month that the shale gas opportunity underneath Preston New Road could be a key enabler in regenerating not just the local Lancashire economy but across the country, and provide a major feedstock for hydrogen.

Storengy, operator of methane storage in salt caverns constructed under Cheshire, is developing the same model for storing hydrogen by 2020. The company is also developing hydrogen electrolysis and transport projects working with a number of partners. Other members of NWHA include Atkins/SNC-Lavalin, BOC, Cadent, Costain and Anglo-Dutch Shell.

The NWHA says studies show the development of a major hydrogen cluster could deliver £17bn in gross value added for the northwest, creating nearly 6,000 jobs and saving 1mn metric tons of CO2 every year.

On the continent, German storage operator VNG, Uniper and others are in the final round of a government-funded competition for €100mn ($110mn) of public money to build a hydrogen storage and supply complex in an industrial zone. That though will use green hydrogen.