Amid a deepening energy crisis sparked in part by surging costs of wholesale gas, the UK is searching for alternative power sources in an attempt to shield consumers from the knock-on effects of price spikes. Pinpointed by the Government in its energy strategy, published in April, hydrogen is set to play a crucial role in weaning the nation off fossil fuels.
It has set a target of creating 10 gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, earmarking £400million to explore the development of innovative green technologies like hydrogen.
Part of this involves £100 million of revenue support to various hydrogen projects, the launching of a £240million for a Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, and a plan to blend up to 20 percent of hydrogen into the natural gas grid, on which it will take a final decision by the end of next year.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Investments in hydrogen technologies will blast domestic energy production higher than ever – securing the future supply of cleaner energy at home and helping us to export abroad.
“This will make for a healthier, wealthier future for the UK while protecting the planet.”
Now, the Government appears to be edging closer towards its target with the announcement of a public-private sector partnership for a low-carbon hydrogen hub in Cumbria.
Plans have been floated for a proposed 35MW commercial hydrogen hub, located on industrial-zoned land in Barrow-in-Furness.
This is set to provide local businesses – particularly those in energy-intensive industries or those with transport fleets – with easy access to clean hydrogen fuel.
The plans have now been brought forward by a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Carlton Power and local stakeholders.
The energy infrastructure development signed the memorandum with the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, Barrow Borough Council, Cadent and Electricity North West.
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The project will produce sustainable hydrogen fuel at scale and create opportunities for businesses in Cumbria to incorporate hydrogen into their net zero plans.
The facility will also support renewable electricity generation by producing and storing hydrogen when renewable output is high and demand is low.
Carlton is hoping the hub will come into operation as early as 2025, although this is subject to planning and financing.
It intends to seek financial support from the Government’s Hydrogen Investment Package (HIP), a fund multi-million pound fund aimed at helping ramp up the hydrogen rollout.
Eric Adams, Hydrogen Projects Director at Carlton Power, said: “We’re delighted to be working with key regional partners to bring forward this green hydrogen facility, which will help Cumbria’s decarbonisation efforts.
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“It supports the Clean Energy Strategy for Cumbria.
“It is critical that projects such as this are brought forward to support investment by local companies in their infrastructure that will enable a reduction in the carbon emissions associated with their operations.”
While the green hydrogen produced at the site is expected to be used for industrial processes, it is hoped that further down the line it can be used to heat homes residential heating and vehicle refuelling.