There are significant opportunities for hydrogen activity in the maritime and marine, and specialist vehicle sectors in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, a study has concluded.
Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP commissioned Regen to undertake an opportunity study, running from April 2021 to July 2021, to identify the potential for hydrogen as a low carbon fuel and a driver for innovation and economic growth in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly up until 2030. It did this through exploring the region’s unique geography, resources, strategic and decarbonisation priorities, existing hydrogen and non-hydrogen activity, as well as engaging with a range of stakeholders.
Cornwall does not have the attributes for large scale blue hydrogen production, existing chemical and refining, access to natural gas landings, locations for large-scale hydrogen and CO2 storage and large-scale hydrogen demand for industry. It does, however, have strong renewable energy resources well suited to producing smaller and medium-scale green hydrogen. There is also potential to import hydrogen or ammonia into Cornwall through shipping into Cornish ports. In terms of specifics, there are significant opportunities in particular in the marine and maritime sector and specialist vehicles.
For example, there are a cluster of hydrogen opportunities around Falmouth port, including research and development, ship conversion and for hydrogen, or ammonia, as a low carbon bunker fuel; there is also a research and development opportunity for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with the likes of the University of Exeter, Wave Hub and links with the University of Plymouth; and a cluster of opportunities around St Austell with potential specialist vehicle fuelling demand from industrial companies and hydrogen used as an alternative fuel for businesses in Cornwall seeking to decarbonise their specialist vehicles.
It did stress, however, that many of these opportunities will not be realised until the latter part of the decade and beyond, with the low carbon hydrogen sector still emerging. Furthermore, the impact of drivers, such as the government’s Hydrogen Strategy, future market regulation, project developer appetite and hydrogen technology development all needing progress before any significant uptake is seen. Government support, together with locational demand, will be key to bringing down the price of green hydrogen and incentivising fuel switching in carbon intensive industries.
It recommended further engagement with key sector stakeholders and electrolyser developers as a way of enabling Cornwall Council and the Isles of Scilly LEP to better understand the scale and location of the potential future demand for hydrogen in the region. This could be done through establishing a Cornwall hydrogen working group, with this structured engagement complemented by a spatial analysis of the electricity and gas networks to identify potential strategic locations for electrolysers in the region.
It also called for Cornwall Council to engage with the Hydrogen Strategy and wider government departmental strategies related to hydrogen. This would be due to there being the potential to influence policies to make sure that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are appropriately represented.