Hydrogen projects now on or approaching Britain’s drawing boards could create at least 17,000 high-tech jobs in the nation’s industrial heartlands, research published this week by Energy Networks Association (ENA) reveals.

Before 2031, five network operators are proposing to pump £6.8 billion into H2 innovation, ENA’s Innovation Impacts report claims.     Up to 25,000 skilled green jobs are likely to result, 13,300 of them direct hires.  The bonanza identified spans five strategic sectors, including their hubs in six Industrial Clusters.

Ranging from Grangemouth to Southampton via Humberside, these are concentration points for hitherto carbon-heavy sectors such as chemicals, iron, steel, glass and ceramics. 

In those zones alone, the alliance of network licensees identifies £4.4bn of investment declared to establish H2 grids. Over 9,000 of the expected jobs would be created by network operators among the ENA’s membership, with another 8,000 roles created by suppliers.

The research summarises commitments made by the netcos’ submissions already lodged with Ofgem.  The regulator’s duties include approving or rejecting big capital spending on infrastructure.

The ENA Innovation Impacts report sets out how the licensed gas operators want to pump an additional:

  • £2.2bn into speeded up research to tweak pipelines for hydrogen-compatibility, ensuring operators can trial the gas over village and town grids, towards delivering on the Johnson government’s plans for clean heat.  Fife, Cumbria and southern England are likeliest spots to benefit,  with over 6,700 jobs expected. 
  • £150m into ventures ensuring wider systems are ready for hydrogen. Replicating the HyDeploy project, which blends up to 20% hydrogen over grids in England’s north, is the goal, plus extending projects on Future Billing Methodology. Over 700 jobs in the north east and Midlands are anticipated.
  • £19.5m into transport R&D, identifying how green hydrogen might cut vehicle emissions, as well as ensuring its integration with other green gases such biomethane, and kit such as wind farms.  One hundred new posts might result. 

Chris Train, ENA’s Gas Goes Green champion commented:  “For the first time, this report sets out the sheer size and scale of opportunities that hydrogen innovation can deliver over the next ten years.

“With the recent publication of the Government’s Hydrogen Strategy and the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan before that, the time is right for Ofgem to consider how it can unlock this investment, helping ensure that hydrogen plays its full part in fuelling Britain’s Green Industrial Revolution.”

Chris Manson-Whitton, of HyNet North West, echoed Train:   “The UK has the innovation, skill and world-leading infrastructure to be a global leader in the delivery of the hydrogen economy. 

“Our leading industrial partners, such as those in the HyNet North West cluster, are committed to decarbonising their operations and products. Hydrogen enables them to do that, safeguarding jobs and attracting inward investment”. 

Read the ENA’s Innovation Impacts report here.


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