Property giant Peel has put its weight behind a plan to create a hydrogen economy between Manchester and Liverpool, which could create a £1.6 billion industry for low carbon heat and power.
Peel, the developer behind the Trafford Centre, MediaCityUK and numerous other major infrastructure projects in the North West, has announced that it is collaborating with other firms to lead an exemplar project to build a ‘hydrogen cluster’.
The company is a strong supporter of a recent proposal to switch the heating of homes and businesses in Liverpool and Manchester from natural gas to hydrogen.
Cleaner heat, cleaner air
According to Peel’s research, a ‘hydrogen economy’ in the North West could unlock £1.6 billion of investment by 2050 and create over 2,000 jobs. Locally-produced hydrogen could feed large industrial heat users in the region, as well as supporting a network of hydrogen vehicle refuelling stations in Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington.
Unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen burns cleanly - producing only water as a byproduct. Repurposing all or parts of the existing gas network to hydrogen could therefore slash carbon emissions, while using it to fuel vehicles in place of petrol or diesel would also help to improve urban air quality.
In total, Peel estimates that the switch could reduce carbon emissions by up to 10 million tonnes a year by 2050.
“The creation of a hydrogen economy would be a game-changer for the North West in so many ways”, said Dr Tony Smith, from Peel Environmental.
“From de-carbonising our energy and contributing to climate change targets, to making substantial improvements to the region’s air quality, delivering a fully-functioning hydrogen industry would be transformational.
“Making it a reality will take collaboration. We’re working alongside some of the biggest names in the energy-intensive industries to promote an exemplar and deliverable hydrogen project, which responds directly to the Government’s recently-published Clean Growth Strategy.”
Peel has put forward its Protos energy development site near Ellesmere Port as a potential central hub for the hydrogen cluster. The site is part of the UK’s first Energy Innovation District, which was announced in September.