Happy second birthday to Hydrogen East!


It’s now been two years to the day that Hydrogen East was launched while, following a very busy and successful first year, Net Zero East celebrated its first birthday in April 2022.

The Hydrogen East team have remained proactive and inquisitive since concluding our pieces of work around the Bacton Energy Hub and Lowestoft PowerPark. We are delighted to have delivered the initial study at PowerPark which contributed to Conrad Energy – one of the original project supporters – gaining consent for a 3MW electrolyser and associated storage in February of this year, as part of their wider project developments on PowerPark.

We have more recently increased our engagement with the NSTA in relation to Bacton to consider how Hydrogen East’s local knowledge, contacts and experience could potentially support the near-term hydrogen demand and supply chain options.

Hydrogen East consider Bacton a hugely important location for both the region and the UK. It will continue playing a vital role along the transitional decarbonisation journey, while it’s also fundamental to the hydrogen agenda. We are aware of emerging thinking from Cadent, National Grid Gas Transmission and SGN in relation to the Capital Hydrogen Program Partnership. They are undertaking an initial research phase, due to conclude in October 2022, that needs to be considered and engaged to ensure local opportunities and benefits are identified for communities and businesses. These discussions must also consider the huge opportunity presented through the import and export potential via the interconnectors at Bacton, linking the UK into the European Hydrogen Backbone.

Below is an update of five projects and workstreams we have been involved in and developing over the past 12 months:

First, during our last birthday update, we highlighted that we had scoped a paper on hydrogen production site feasibility assessment across Norfolk and were looking to do similar across Suffolk. We were able to secure some funding via the Road to Net Zero Grants (CRF) and overseen by NALEP, we have just concluded our study on Suffolk Hydrogen Refuelling Feasibility.

Second, we are a project partner alongside Arup and Scottish Power in delivering the Hethel Local Energy System Solutions project – part of the UK Government’s UK Community Renewal Fund (CRF), with the CRF aimed at supporting people and communities in need and creating opportunities to trial innovative ideas at a local level. The feasibility study aims to identify site-specific solutions for Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES) development.

Third, we are currently developing our thinking around a potential feasibility study with the aim of understanding how the energy sector can work with the water industry to ensure sustainable and appropriate allocation of water resources. This could involve looking at diverting drainage water or post-water-treatment discharge to alternative uses that would unlock mutual benefits for a variety of stakeholders.

Fourth, we will soon be finalising our contribution to the Interreg North Sea Region Programme delivering the hydrogen aspects of the project, from supply chain mapping to outlining innovation and technology challenges. The conclusion of this element of the project will see Green Hydrogen State of the Nation reports. We are responsible for the UK version which will complement the reports being delivered by partners covering Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.

Fifth, we are now proactively looking to lead the development of a Clean Hydrogen Cluster in the East of England, strengthening the foundation of an attractive region that is primed and ready for the development of diverse hydrogen projects. This would pave the way for development and improved infrastructure to be implemented, before then being further scaled as demand for clean hydrogen grows. Within the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to the key stakeholders we have been holding promising conversations with regarding next steps. Watch this space!

We also continue delivering monthly H2 News Hub newsletters, tracking the latest developments in the world of hydrogen, including a policy and funding tracker.

Net Zero East has also been extremely busy during this period. We were extremely privileged to deliver a piece of work supporting North Norfolk District Council in developing their Net Zero Strategy and Action Plan 2030. This piece of work is now complete, and the strategy published. Alongside this, we published our first and second volumes of Net Zero Guides to Local Authorities for Norfolk and Suffolk respectively. A third volume is in development and hoped to be finalised soon for Essex.

Another major piece of work we were able to secure was working on behalf of the Norfolk Climate Change Partnership for a project funded by the UK government through the previously mentioned UK Community Renewal Fund.

The Community Energy Kickstarter will provide the foundation for identifying how national and local issues can be addressed to unlock greater energy generation at the local level, but also how enabling place-specific local action and dissemination of knowledge and understanding can help to achieve decarbonisation goals in Norfolk. The study starts with the current market context and will focus on complex factors that influence community energy developments and the routes to market. Various methodologies will be considered and assessed on how best they may support local assessments, including approaches like Local Area Energy planning.

The NZ E-Mapping tool is still being used extensively for all our project work and research. We have continued to make this tool available to any external stakeholder that feels it will add value. We recently completed a very interesting piece of work supporting Southend City Council with an Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure study.

The NZ E-Mapping platform is being further developed. This includes a more stable foundation and architecture, as well as additional functionality. We have applied to Innovate UK for some grant funding to support this work. We are hopeful that if successful, we will find ourselves a step closer to being able to provide the platform via a subscription service.

On resourcing, we have also expanded the team to six, further bolstered by two year in industry (YII) students from the UEA. Therefore, big welcomes to Amelia Hardman, Ellie Udomwong, Jia Rohilla (YII) and Sam Reade (YII) who have all recently joined the team. So with Nigel Cornwall and Johnathan Reynolds’ valuable input and Cory Varney joining us from 1 August, that will make it 11 in all.

Looking ahead, we are nearing the end of several substantial pieces of work and developing our thinking around some interesting areas we feel will add great value and support decarbonisation, sustainability and energy security. We plan to socialise this in the coming weeks.

It has been an exciting second year! We hope to build on the progress we have made over the coming months and welcome conversations and engagement with all.