HyNet project ready to kick-start hydrogen economy

07 June 2019

The HyNet North West project demonstrates a huge step forwards in the direction of clean energy, with the potential to supply low-cost, low-carbon energy for customers, whilst bringing tangible economic benefits to the country. 
Tiffany Hionas

As climate change has become one of the most pressing challenges faced in the UK and internationally, the global response to this challenge has produced a great industrial opportunity.

HyNet North West is a hydrogen energy and Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) project with the goal of reducing carbon emissions from industry, homes and transport – an essential step in meeting the UK’s 2050 carbon reduction targets.

CCUS is appearing as one of the most exciting technologies of our time and its supporters believe it will be crucial to meet the global climate ambitions laid out in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

By reusing heat and industrial emissions, CCUS technology in the HyNet project will reduce transport fuel emissions and will instead increase the use of hydrogen-based fuels to produce decarbonised electricity.

‘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, said Professor Joseph Howe, chair of the North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA) and executive director of the Thornton Energy Institute. ‘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.’

This project would involve building a hydrogen production facility in Cheshire by 2024 and distributing the gas to energy-intensive industry in the area. Hydrogen will be blended with natural gas to heat approximately two million homes in Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

By building accessible hydrogen infrastructure through HyNet, hydrogen could be brought to the UK rail network for the first time to help realize the opportunity of hydrogen trains.

The HyNet infrastructure is easily extendable beyond the initial project, and provides a replicable model for similar programmes across the UK.

Professor Howe said, ‘hydrogen could be a vital part of the decarbonisation picture…the climate change message is clearly resonating with younger generations – something that’s become abundantly clear with the recent demonstrations in the capital. This generation are unlikely to ever own a fossil fuelled car and for them hydrogen could be an everyday reality.’

It is estimated that HyNet North West has the potential to attract £1bn worth of investment and economic growth for the country, and will bring up to 5,000 jobs to the North West. HyNet could thus play a clear role in improving the soci-economic growth of the country, making the North West of the UK a stable and strong region for the next generations to live and work.

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