East Coast Hydrogen can connect 7GW of hydrogen production by 2030 on its own, a report has revealed, exceeding the government’s 5GW target through a single project.
On 30 November, the East Coast Hydrogen Consortium launched its feasibility report, detailing the “unmissable opportunity” the 15-year programme represents for government and the private sector to work together in delivering the UK’s decarbonisation targets. It will use the natural assets of the North of England and build on hydrogen production in two of the UK’s largest industrial clusters in the North East and North West, resulting in significant private sector investment into the UK’s industrial heartlands, while also serving as a blueprint for the conversion of the national gas grid to hydrogen.
East Coast Hydrogen’s proximity to large industrial sites, large scale gas storage and offshore wind power means that it is perfectly placed to anchor the decarbonisation of the region through hydrogen. Over 7GW of hydrogen production is planned for 2030, along with 800km of total repurposed and dedicated new-build hydrogen national and local transmission pipelines and 10TWh of hydrogen storage capacity in the region.
It will support up to 39,000 commercial and industrial sites being supplied with low carbon heating and process fuel, see up to 24% of the UK’s annual industrial and commercial gas demand being decarbonised through East Coast Hydrogen, and up to 11MtCO2 commercial and industrial emissions avoided annually through fuel switching from gas to hydrogen. It will also see up to 4.4mn domestic properties switched to a low carbon heating solution, with up to 17% of annual UK domestic gas demand decarbonised through East Coast Hydrogen and up to 9MtCO2 domestic emissions avoided annually from switching to a hydrogen gas supply.
Further benefits include the delivery of 9,000 jobs at its peak in 2026, in relation to hydrogen, satisfying 100% of the government’s target for 2030. It will require over £850mn investment for the conversion and construction of new transmission pipeline infrastructure, while investment in a net zero compliant gas grid will safeguard continued supply chain spend in the gas industry within the East Coast, which totalled over £1bn in 2020.
East Coast Hydrogen will proceed in four phases, the first of which will involve the completion of pre-FEED and FEED study, as well as the development of East Coast Cluster Infrastructure, leading to the connection of the Humber and Teesside clusters in the second phase. Further expansion will follow in the third phase from the industrial clusters into Northern urban areas and the Midlands. The network will then connect into further regions and future growth opportunities in its fourth phase, including Bacton.
In the first quarter of 2022, the pre-FEED study will commence, with further next steps including East Coast Hydrogen aligning with the East Coast Cluster and Project Union in the early 2020s to ensure coordinated deployment of hydrogen infrastructure and establishing an Industrial Hydrogen Users Group in early 2022. It will also engage with consumer groups in 2022 on domestic conversion to ensure that consumers are ready for the government’s decision there, which is scheduled for 2026.