There is no silver bullet for the UK’s current economic challenges, but clean hydrogen certainly comes close.
Inflation, energy security, green economic growth and industrial regeneration are all issues that clean hydrogen can help tackle, not singlehandedly but as part of a coordinated effort to rebuild our economy in a sustainable manner.
Two projects in the news just this month point to green hydrogen’s potential for sparking life back into local and regional economies.
Statkraft UK is planning to build a green energy hub on the site of a former military base in Trecwn, Pembrokeshire, where it will use electricity from solar and wind energy to split water and make green hydrogen.
If its planning application is successful, it will produce about three tonnes of hydrogen a day, enough to power 170 buses.
The project has the “potential to act as a catalyst for the redevelopment of Trecwn Valley,” said Matt Kelly, head of eFuels at Statkraft UK, a view echoed by Pembrokeshire deputy council leader Paul Miller.
Similar sentiments were on show in Ireland’s parliament last week where Senator Victor Boyhan told the Upper House that the proposed ‘hydrogen valley’ development at the Port of Galway, known as GH2, is a “game-changer for the West.”
“Sustainability and decarbonisation are key objectives for the Government and are now at the very heart of public transport policy,” he said. “It is clear there is a future for sustainable growth. This is clearly an exciting project.”
Clean hydrogen is upending the energy landscape by creating the opportunity to produce fuel wherever there are renewable energy resources and an electrolyser, reducing the need to import oil and gas from unstable and unfriendly nations, such as Russia.
With the right mix of investment, entrepreneurship and policy support, places like Trecwn and Port of Galway can build ecosystems to fuel public transport, decarbonise industry and provide round-the-clock zero-carbon electricity.
Industries such as steel manufacturing will be upended by the arrival of green hydrogen as it replaces coal as the main catalyst for the production of iron ore. As the pieces of the industrial economy enter flux, the UK must grasp the opportunities that lie before it before they settle again.
Thousands of jobs will be created by the hydrogen economy and thousands more will shift as new technologies demand new skills and industries are freed from the confines of fossil-fuel reliance.
With the ability to produce, transport and distribute hydrogen close to industrial and transport hubs, a new economy can grow, with clean hydrogen at the centre.
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