Derby sets sights on hydrogen future


Hydrogen could prove a major driver for new jobs and skills in Derby, a study has found.

On 1 September, Derby City Council published a report commissioned from Arup, exploring the potential of hydrogen as an energy source for the region, deeming it to be well-placed to be a national front-runner for establishing a hydrogen economy. Reasons for this include its strong cluster of advanced manufacturing and engineering excellence; wealth of large scale sites with high development potential as green hubs; network of research institutions and collaborators; and large potential users with strong transport infrastructure.

It stressed the next five years are an “opportune time” for Derby and the D2N2 region to use its unique energy eco-system, with the report mapping out how hydrogen can ensure the region can achieve mutually reinforcing goals of decarbonisation, economic growth and skills development.

Notably, hydrogen will be a key driver for retaining and upskilling the region’s substantial and aligned workforce and supply chain in its productive advanced manufacturing, engineering and energy sectors. It forecast that by 2030, it could account for at least 800 new jobs in the D2N2 area. There are also significant opportunities for secondary industries associated with the region’s growing focus on clean growth industries, such as East Midlands Airport and Ratcliffe Power Station, to benefit from a hydrogen economy, while it could also be used to help decarbonise the region’s highest carbon emitting sites.

It forecast that around 8.5TWh of hydrogen could be consumed in Derby and the wider D2N2 region by 2050. This would predominantly be through industry, though transportation would also play a role. By 2030, it tipped local demand to exceed what could be produced locally, while at least 16 sites with high potential for both, or either, hydrogen production and end-use capability were identified.

Proposed hydrogen roadmap for Derby and wider D2N2 region
Source: Arup

It went on to set out a roadmap, made up of recommendations up to 2035 and beyond, to establish a regional hydrogen economy and capitalise on the clear opportunity, including that a Derby region hydrogen taskforce is established; for there to be a focus on vocational skills training and educational outreach programmes related to hydrogen; and for hydrogen supply to be established, initially through blending.

Other recommendations include implementing hydrogen bus schemes, hydrogen passenger trains and dispensing infrastructure, with aviation potential to be explored over the longer-term; to explore domestic hydrogen potential through a heat trial in Derby; to explore hydrogen in industry, through an exemplar energy innovation site at Smart Parc and establish a hydrogen and carbon capture industrial cluster in North West Derbyshire; and for the findings of the study to be incorporated into Derby and D2N2 LEP’s inward investment strategy.