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.