Plan highlights potential of a hydrogen ecosystem in Thames Estuary


The Thames Estuary Growth Board has launched a Thames Estuary Hydrogen Route Map, setting out why the Estuary is “uniquely placed” to deliver a hydrogen ecosystem.

Unveiled on 26 October, the Hydrogen Route Map details the “economic desirability” of a hydrogen ecosystem in the Thames Estuary, drawing on how by 2035, demand for hydrogen manufacture and supply could support more than £2.2bn of investment and 9,000 jobs within the region. It could also support an additional 5,300 roles in the automotive industry and the potential for a further 1,750 for assembly of electrolysers, supported by the Thames Estuary’s advanced manufacturing sector.

Further benefits of a hydrogen ecosystem in the Thames Estuary include £3.8bn of cumulative Gross Value Added  (GVA) and up to 5.9mn tons of CO2 avoided.

Outlining why the Thames Estuary would suit a hydrogen ecosystem, it cited its position next to London and stretching out into the North Sea as advantages, as well as the fact the region has a wide range of potential end users across a number of industries. These included high heat industrial end users, along with those in transport, data and heating.

There are also a number of major infrastructure projects in the region, such as the Lower Thames Crossing, which offers an opportunity to demonstrate fossil-free alternatives for construction, while local demand for carbon dioxide is an opportunity for re-use when it comes to storage. Finally, the Thames is the largest port cluster in the UK, supported by a significant fleet of back-to-base logistics operations in multiple port locations.

The next phase of the project will seek to convert this hydrogen opportunity into bankable projects, including deep dive analysis into so-called “showcase” clusters; further local stakeholder engagement o refine hydrogen demand assumption; stress-testing shortlisted technical applications with stakeholders; deciding on optimal technical solutions; refining of business models, if needed, to get stakeholder support for a specific project; outlining the business case development for identified projects, and the nature of parties sought to deliver them; and presenting projects to investors, where external financing is sought.

The project investment pipeline for initial clusters will be released in May 2022, with delivery following thereafter.

Photo by Ricky Rew on Unsplash