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Hydrogen transition is fast becoming a reality

When it comes to the much-talked-about Hydrogen transition, it is encouraging to see that words are finally turning into action. While some serious technical challenges remain concerning safe carbon capture and storage, it was recently announced that Essar, the Indian energy company, has joined forces with Progressive Energy in a £750m investment project to supply low carbon Hydrogen to industrial sites and homes in the North West.

Part of the ‘HyNet’ Scheme, this low carbon production hub will involve building two plants around the Mersey Estuary next to the Stanlow refinery. According to a report in the FT, the plan is to convert natural gas and fuel gases from the refinery into low carbon Hydrogen and to capture and store carbon dioxide in depleted undersea gas fields 60km offshore. Brilliant.

No one is dragging their feet either. The first plant is scheduled to open in 2025, the second and larger plant in 2027. It is estimated that, by 2030, the project could be trapping 10m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – a substantial contribution to Government’s ambitious and much vaunted target of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Elsewhere, HyNet is also trialing Hydrogen power with glassmakers Pilkington and with the household products giant Unilever. If the trials are successful, Cadent, which owns the gas pipeline infrastructure, will build supply lines that will eventually power households and possibly ships and trains.

Meanwhile, our five largest gas companies have jointly published an energy transition plan that includes a target of 20% of gas used in the UK to be Hydrogen by 2023 and an entire town to be powered by Hydrogen by 2030.

It is an exciting time for everyone because we all stand to benefit, whether as a business, a household or simply as part of the community. Stories like these must be music to the ears of a Government that has made such massive undertakings to reduce carbon emissions.

If, as we are, you are involved in energy industry, you will undoubtedly have a role to play. In our case, we are actively collaborating with Universities, engaging directly with the scientists, lecturers, and students specialising in Hydrogen research. We can access the latest data and, through our graduate trainees working closely with our own engineers, use that knowledge and brainpower to help us adapt our products and services for what lies ahead. Change is inevitable and we want to be ready – there can be no excuses.