Experts assess how to unlock Thames Estuary’s hydrogen potential


The Thames Estuary Growth Board has held a virtual summit, exploring how a world-class hydrogen infrastructure could be delivered in the Thames Estuary.

On 18 November, it outlined how the purpose of the summit was to bring the potential for hydrogen in the Thames Estuary to life. It assembled relevant people and organisations and sought to understand future demand, different markets and uses for hydrogen. The summit heard from a range of contributors already making progress in creating a hydrogen powered future, sharing knowledge and learnings from other locations, and explored how to work together moving forwards.

Research from the University of Kent has predicted that by 2050, there will be an estimated demand of 0.8-1.25mn tonnes of hydrogen per year across the Thames Estuary. This would call for an eightfold increase in renewable energy capacity over the next 30 years.

While the technology involved is considered to be straightforward, both the board and speakers acknowledged that there are challenges to rolling out hydrogen power more widely, including storage or supply chain issues. Anticipating these issues, as well as working collaboratively, means that they can be minimised but doing so successfully calls for consideration and agreement on what success looks like. Once in place, a clear and comprehensive plan of action can be created, with the summit considered the first step in this process.

The Thames Estuary Growth Board will now draw up roadmap setting out their journey to developing a hydrogen ecosystem with the dual aims of driving economic growth while moving towards a net zero future. It forecast that as well as the environmental benefits, there is an opportunity to unlock £18bn GVA and create 75,000 jobs in the Thames Estuary region alone.

It added that in light of the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, together with the cross-sector interest its event generated, the Growth Board believes the Estuary is in a good place to build and prove the case for investment in hydrogen, playing a key role in the UK’s overall hydrogen journey.

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