Virtual summit looks at potential for hydrogen in Thames Estuary

Virtual summit looks at potential for hydrogen in Thames Estuary

The potential requirements and challenges for delivering a world-class hydrogen infrastructure in the Thames Estuary, UK were discussed at a virtual summit this week.

Organised by the Thames Estuary Growth Board, it brought together the organisations and people that can make this happen and aimed to understand future demand, different markets and uses for hydrogen.

The Thames Estuary presents a unique opportunity for investment in hydrogen infrastructure at scale, like nowhere else in the UK.

Next to one of the world’s leading cities, which has a constant strain on its energy and transport infrastructure, the Estuary could play a vital role in the Green Recovery, supporting a decarbonised London and keeping the UK on track towards a net zero future.

This is particularly timely given the Prime Minister’s announcement for a 10-point climate plan to reach net zero includes having 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen energy production capacity by 2030.

Read more: UK PM backs hydrogen in his 10-point green plan

A range of contributors who are already making progress in creating a hydrogen powered future shared their knowledge and learnings from other locations, and explored how to work together to move the plans forward.

Research by the University of Kent has predicted that by 2050, there will be an estimated demand of 0.8 – 1.25 million tonnes of hydrogen per annum across the Thames Estuary.

This would require an eightfold increase in renewable energy capacity for the region in the next 30 years.

While the technology involved is relatively straightforward, the Growth Board and speakers are clear that there are also challenges along the way to rolling out hydrogen power more widely.

Challenges, such as storage or supply chain issues, are to be expected but anticipating them and working collaboratively will help minimise them.

To do this successfully, it is essential to consider and agree what success looks like, and then work backwards to create a clear and comprehensive plan of action: the summit was the first step in this process.

Following the event, the Thames Estuary Growth Board will be drawing up a roadmap which will set out their journey to developing a hydrogen ecosystem with the dual aims of driving our economic growth while moving us towards a net zero carbon future.

In light of the Prime Minister’s ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ announcement this week, and the cross-sector interest generated by the event, the Estuary is clearly in a good place to offer opportunities to demonstrate the role of hydrogen to the UK.

Kate Willard OBE, Estuary Envoy, said, “The benefits of a hydrogen-fuelled future are vast. Our summit was a great step forward in delivering an infrastructure that is going to help us on our journey to becoming the cleanest Estuary in the world, to building skills and creating job opportunities, and to delivering billions back into the local and national economy.”

“We have the skills, commitment, passion and ambition to make this a reality. Now, we are going to see it through.”

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